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Title: Commercializing emerging technologies through networks : case of nanotech SMEs in the UK
Author: Salehi Yazdi, Fatemeh
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 8122
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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This research aims at understanding how business networks influence the commercialization of emerging technologies. It focuses on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the field of nanotechnology in the UK and aims to identify what types of networks they use for commercialization. It also examines how different types of networks can explain success or otherwise in commercialization with respect to the position of the SME in the value chain and the type of resulting innovation. Various streams of literature including debates on SMEs and innovation, open innovation, the innovation systems literature, and the industrial networks approach are used to develop a conceptual framework that guides this research. Using a case study approach, 23 Nanotech SMEs in the UK are investigated. Secondary data on firms are gathered from various sources including company websites and the FAME database. Primary data are collected through 40 semi-structured interviews with SMEs’ senior managers and key informants. Data analysis is based upon thematic analysis. The findings present a typology of networks based on a combination of network structure and actor roles, including six network types: incumbent-oriented network with reactive SME, incumbent-oriented network with proactive SME, SME-oriented network, broker-oriented networks, hybrid networks and interrupted networks. The findings indicate that a reactive approach towards networking is less conducive to commercialization, regardless of the innovation type or value chain position. SMEs can proactively create incumbent-oriented, SME-oriented or broker-oriented networks to facilitate commercialization. Incumbent-oriented networks with proactive SMEs are conducive to commercialization of both nanomaterials and nano-intermediate products and can facilitate commercialization of moderately and highly radical nanotechnology. SME-oriented networks are also conducive to commercialization of moderately and highly radical nanotechnology, but have been used for commercialization of nano-enabled products. Broker-oriented networks can facilitate commercialization of technologies or products developed in the upstream part of the value chain and are more influential in the commercialization of moderately or highly radical nanotechnology. Some Nanotech SMEs are simultaneously involved in more than one network type, i.e. have hybrid networks, pursuing multiple strategies for commercialization. All SMEs with hybrid networks have broker-oriented networks in common and in some cases the broker-oriented network has caused formation of other network types. Finally, the findings show how interrupted networks pose the biggest challenge for commercialization. The thesis contributes to the debates on SMEs and innovation and the gap on how open innovation is implemented within the context of SMEs and emerging technologies. This research also informs SME managers' strategies and choices related to participation in business networks. It provides further insights for policy makers regarding the networking behaviour of SMEs and contribution of various network actors to commercialization and in this way assists with devising policies for encouraging and facilitating collaboration for commercialization.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Emerging Technologies ; Commercialization ; Business Network ; Small and Medium sized Enterprise ; SME ; Nanotech ; UK