Research Study Proposal
“Process for strategic knowledge transfer from universities to SMEs: The role of
universities in the roadmap to Sustainable Development of the industries”
Technological solutions from business-as-usual environment will not arise
quickly enough to meet the pressing challenge of sustainable development (SD) .
Initiating networks of innovations, through partnerships between universities and
industries, has been recognized as a critical enabler of SD. One of the major hurdles in
the creation of innovation networks is the lack of well developed knowledge management
techniques that can effectively stimulate knowledge creation and sharing among research
organizations—primarily universities—and all levels of industries. This research study is
proposed to make an attempt to develop an effective process for sustainability related
knowledge transfer from universities to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The initial questions/topics that will be addressed in the study are:
- What are the conditions for SMEs to enter the path towards SD?
- Can the university-industry link be reformulated to enable simultaneous
deployment and widespread dissemination of knowledge?
- How can there be an environment created that synergizes the efforts of
universities, large corporations and SME's towards SD?
This research focuses on university-industry link mainly related to SMEs because
SMEs lack internal resources and capabilities needed to shift their course towards SD.
Resources include economic position that restricts meaningful investments to be made in
sustainability-related technology development. Capabilities include knowledge
absorption and application abilities.
SMEs play a crucial role as suppliers and subcontractors to larger companies.
Their active participation towards sustainability is critical for the whole industry. There is
a need to address their lack of preparedness to develop sustainable products (parts,
subassemblies, etc) and processes (services). Their own future economic competitiveness
will likely depend on meeting the sustainability criteria.
The knowledge transfer process with business-as-usual and the role of proposed
knowledge transfer management between universities and SMEs is illustrated in Figure1.
 United Nations Development Programme, 2002, "Energy for Sustainable
Development – A Policy Agenda".
through joint efforts
Knowledge transfer in
*Figure developed through personal discussions with Dr Karol Pelc, MTU