Knowledge is significantly increasing as a driver of innovation and wealth, and universities continue to play a more central role in the creation and dissemination of valuable knowledge. Today’s knowledge economy poses a number of challenges for universities as creators and providers of knowledge. Beyond education and research, universities face the challenge of being partners in strategic research consortia together with other universities and industry. In addition, universities have the responsibility as stakeholders in developing industry clusters and delivering new innovations through creating firms. The university research setting is both a participant and driver of open solutions such as creative commons and open source developments.
As knowledge-intensive organizations, there are a number of challenges which affect the future role of the university as a knowledge actor:
- Increased competitive academic and research environment across physical and stakeholder boundaries.
- Increased emphasis on the role of universities in knowledge development.
- Increasing challenges to uphold traditional academic values in the face of university-created assets being subject to claims.
- Increasing demand to generate value by public financiers.
- Increased demand by industry partners to package research and technology for business use.
These new challenges require the university to accept a responsibility and role as an active stakeholder in platforms that can facilitate utilization of knowledge for the benefit of society. The capacity for knowledge to promote and advance welfare in areas like healthcare, medicine, environment, renewable energy and other areas is not only important because of the potential commercial value in such areas, but also because of the significant societal value that advancements in these areas offer for both developed and developing societies.
Building a strong university in the knowledge economy requires taking on the responsibility for securing and promoting the use of valuable knowledge assets to generate both social and economic value. In order to successfully fulfill this responsibility, capabilities for implementing a holistic and strategic approach to managing knowledge are needed in order to integrate these activities and build a complete knowledge triangle at the management level as well as among individual researchers. Professional and structured activities are needed to support utilization activities in the same way that education and research activities are currently an integrated part of the university setting. Thus, a professional and structured approach for managing knowledge assets in a strategic and holistic manner is needed, but such an approach must also be able to address the unique challenges that exist within the university research setting.
There are a number of specific challenges related to facilitating use of knowledge assets within the university setting:
- Proactive care and management of research results in all phases.
- Establish clear and transparent ownership and incentive structures.
- Manage utilization of research results from a broader portfolio perspective rather than as isolated objects.
- Promote responsible development and packaging of results for the turnover of multiple utilization opportunities, both commercial and non-commercial.
- Facilitate use of all available utilization pathways at all phases of research.
Implementing a professional and structured approach will allow the university to act as a driving force for creating value across the greatest range of both commercial and non-commercial uses by balancing and facilitating the utilization of knowledge assets across as many value-creating paths as possible and in relation to the greatest number of potential stakeholders.