Commercialization networks in emerging technologies: the case of UK nanotechnology small and midsize enterprises

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This paper investigates how small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) utilize networks to commercialize emerging technologies. We build on literature on SMEs and innovation, networks, and how innovation occurs within collaborative arrangements. Contrasting network types and their influences on commercialization outcomes are probed in the context of SME value chain positions. An exploratory study is undertaken to offer a framework and findings that provide context and insight. We consider roles of SME agency and strategy to put forward a four-part framework of network types. Using a multiple case approach of a sample of UK nanotechnology SMEs, value-chain positions and networks for commercialization are examined. Data are collected through semi-structured primary interviews with managers and informants and from secondary business databases and other sources.
Commercialization outcomes are found to vary by SME network type and value chain positioning. SMEs can proactively create SME-led, peer-SME or broker-led networks that aid commercialization. SME-led networks enable successful commercialization of upstream and midstream products. Peer- SME networks are used for downstream commercialization. Broker-led networks facilitate commercialization in the upstream part of the value chain. Hybrid networks are used where SMEs pursue multiple commercialization strategies. Reactive approaches to networking and interrupted networks, regardless of value chain position, are unfavourable for commercialization. The study’s conceptual and managerial implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Technology Transfer
Early online date11 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2022


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