Quantifying Methods for an Innovation Systems Analysis of the UK Wave Energy Sector
Vantoch-Wood, Angus R.
Date: 4 October 2012
University of Exeter
PhD in Renewable Energy
Current proxy indicators of innovation although insightful, tend to provide more relevance in both larger scale markets, (such as in the pharmaceuticals or electronics industry) and for codifiable innovative activity, (such as patents and bibliometrics). These measures could be capitalised on further if a more robust measure of ...
Current proxy indicators of innovation although insightful, tend to provide more relevance in both larger scale markets, (such as in the pharmaceuticals or electronics industry) and for codifiable innovative activity, (such as patents and bibliometrics). These measures could be capitalised on further if a more robust measure of functionality performance that included informal innovative activity could be gained to help assess the overall performance of the system under inspection. This work uses the emerging UK wave energy sector as a primary case study to explore early stage innovation systems through the novel application of network analysis as well as existing innovation systems theory. It was hoped that a clearer understanding of which metrics were related to which system functionality and how representative they were would help to create more robust and transferable measures of emergent system functionality. The question as to whether this increased confidence and insight into system operation could allow for benchmarking comparisons between spatially or socially different emerging innovative networks, such as different countries or stakeholder types was then addressed, as well as wether this could provide a higher level of efficacy to applied policy support? A further goal of this work was to assess the current wave energy sector through these methodologies and provide insightful feedback into activity, potential opportunities and threats present within the system. The main methodological findings show that the novel application of Social Network Analysis provided a strongly correlated and insightful metric of innovative activity however (as with established metrics), there were clearl limitations on applicability and that a ‘one size fits all’ application of methods is not available for any innovation assessment tools. Additionally, many existing metrics used within analysis are often un-clearly defined or presented leaving largely presumptuous levels of interpretation within the final analysis. Sectoral findings showed a range of narratives regarding the sector. Clear prominence of Scotland and higher levels of all system functionality within the country make it a strong performer within the system. Likewise, a lack of coherent and ‘first-past-the-post’ funding policy has produced a ‘gating’ of technology support that in turn has disillusioned many early device developers while pulling out a fortunate few. This ‘Mathew Effect’ within the system may (among other things) leave the sector open to system shocks from outside competition and reduce the level of market entrance due to a perception of unfair or secretive support provision.
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