Needs Analysis and Best Practice Report

The deliverable 10 “Innovation Laboratories in Belarus and Ukraine: Needs Analysis & International Best Practice” is now available on the INNOLAB website.

Executive Summary

The aim of WP2 is to develop a comprehensive understanding of existing enterprise engagement and innovation practice in Belarus & Ukraine, & compare this with that internationally.

To substantiate the aim achievement the three main focuses were undertaken in preparing a report:

  1. to analyze an international literature;
  2. to reveal the regional peculiarities of existing enterprise engagement and innovation practice through the extensive fieldwork in three regions in Ukraine (Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zakarpattya) and Belarus (Grodno and Vitebsk), all geographically located differently, thus reflecting the distinctive economic circumstances;
  3. to generalize the clustering results gotten in the bigger national pictures on the topic for both countries Ukraine and Belarus.

During the recent decades abroad the university-enterprise linkages have becomes a strategic issue, since it is considered as a source of funding for universities, as well as a tool for developing a governmental policy in order to achieve an economic development, what is well reflected in the research international literature. The direct contribution to economy, thus the links with enterprises has become the university’s third mission, dramatically influencing the quality of teaching and research. The supportive theoretical groups of this suggest that knowledge can be produced effectively by universities through strengthening their engagement with other potential actors, such as industry and government. Empirical studies show significant evidence for the positive and negative consequences. While the studies of the positive consequences focused on investigating the number of license, patents, spin-offs and informal collaborative modes such as contracted research on the behavior of academics, critical studies focused on the concern of traditional norm of open science and communalism. The theoretical analysis done for the project purposes, gave a good frame to form the necessary research approach to obtain a comprehensive understanding of existing enterprise engagement and innovation practice in Belarus & Ukraine.

The fieldwork study was done during January-July 2013. For achieving the project purposes the five regions were involved in research, selected by the location of University-partners: Kharkiv, Kyiv, Zakarpattya in Ukraine and Grodno, Vitebsk in Belarus. All regions are characterized by big share of industrial production in the economic structure, particularly this true for processing industry. Two regions (Zakarpattya and Grodno) have a strong export orientation. Within the research it was revealed that the processing industry in all regions possesses the most of innovators at all levels. At the same time for Kyiv and Grodno the international innovators are placed mostly in computer, information and related activities. Trade in some regions was indicated as the significant possessor of regional innovators too (Kharkiv and Vitebsk).

Two types of interviews were conducted within the project framework:

  1. the 40 interviews with university top-managers using the open interview questions. The main issues covered in the university survey were knowledge exchange activities at the university, the benefits and the challenges (internal and external) involved in knowledge exchange activities for the different actors, a way how the knowledge exchange activities are governed at the University, the nature of the relationships between the university and key external stakeholders regarding knowledge exchange, the impact of knowledge exchange for the University, academics, students, enterprises, the region and the country.
  2. the 120 survey interviews of innovative enterprises (in industry and services) using the semi-structured questionnaires. The structure of the enterprise sample was developed on the statistical proportions of innovative enterprises in Ukraine and employees’ distribution in Belarus, as the distribution of innovative enterprises was predominantly located in industrial sectors. The main issues covered in the enterprise survey in both Ukraine and Belarus were the key characteristics of enterprise, products/services innovations, markets, processes and technology innovations, characteristics of the entrepreneur, knowledge transfer from the university to enterprise, selected performance indicators. As a precaution for the data obtain, it has to be noted that in Vitebsk region all enterprises were selected on a base of previous work with university, thus their results show the expectedly high level of engagement.

The analysis results indicated that prevailing majority of innovative enterprises in the region introduce regional and national level innovations. The share of radical innovators modestly differs from region to region, with exception to one region in Belarus.

The customers, experience and market research appeared to be important for all types of innovators in all regions. The international sources of information were shown as important for all regions.

The research results show that the perception of university by enterprises was revealed primarily as a consulting and knowledge transfer, and a provider of human capital, in the form of well qualified graduates.

In both countries the radical innovators have the better relations with Universities; the common problem in cooperation is “getting the academics to understand the firms’ needs”. Less innovative firms appear to be confronted with different challenges, which more associated with internal situations.

The university interviews gave a sense on common issues for universities in Ukraine and Belarus:

  • General underestimation of possibilities of mutually beneficial collaboration in knowledge exchange by both of universities and enterprises.
  • Unwillingness of businesses to accept innovations.

  • Difficulty in adapting classical university-level knowledge to the level of specific business problems solving, excessive academic quality of the knowledge of University’s employees.
  • Issues of intellectual property rights protection. Insufficiently regulated distribution of copyright.
  • Limited access of universities to the informative resources on advanced knowledge of the world.
  • Incomplete accordance of received results to the expectation of customers that lead to their dissatisfaction.
  • Non-fulfilment of obligations by parties involved in knowledge exchange process.
  • Cooperation gives opportunity to receive financial benefits for universities (update material and technical base, additional remuneration for scientists, materialization / commercialization of research developments and getting additional income).

This empirical research gave an interesting reflection of current situation on embedding of the third mission in the university’s activities in post-socialist countries, and the unexpected thing was revealed here that under the socialist time the university made more contacts with enterprises. The historical revival would be much appreciated by the older generation of universities and enterprises’ employees.

Despite that, the National and regional differences are very important – reinforcing the decision to focus on the regional dimension in this report. Some of these differences are:

  1. the large enterprises in innovation are more active in Ukraine than in Belarus;
  2. the external finance is used by a small minority of innovators in Ukraine in contrast to the experience of Belarus;
  3. the geographical origin of information sources is very predictable in Ukraine but much less so in Belarus;
  4. there are considerable differences in the incidence of different types of innovators in the five regions involved in the project. Zakarpattya and Vitebsk appear to possess greater number of radical innovators, whilst Kharkiv a number of marginal ones.

This suggests the general conclusion that the approach to INNOLABS must be customized to the local context.

More info

Download the Deliverable 10 – Innovation Laboratories in Belarus and Ukraine: Needs Analysis & International Best Practice