Demand-driven innovation accelerates tech transfer: Myth or Reality?
Opposite views seems to emerge when it comes to accelerate tech transfer in Europe. User-led innovation, bottom-up innovation, living labs etc. are just a part of a long list of ways to try to better align R&D carried by industry with user's needs (potential consumers). They are clear efforts that try to reduce the gap of tech transfer and refine the product or service they foresee to launch into the market. If you want a EU project to be funded, you have to demonstrate how user's participate in the R&D process. The more and more pilots have to be well designed all along a project with iteration methods and not only be carried in the last phase of a project otherwise your chances to get EU funding decrease…
But it is a little bit more complex, isn't it? User's need or preferences are not static and demand of innovation can be shaped. As Henry Ford famously said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." This is why we keep seeing strong "technology push" research. Cases like Weizman Institute in Israel http://www.weizmann.ac.il/pages/technology-transfer-0 show how "curiosity driven research" (opposed to goal driven research) can have impressive tech transfer results (see my previous comment:https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/comment/679#comment-679) Curiosity driven research relies on freedom and serendipity. Researchers investigate questions because of their instincts and curiosity say that there is something relevant in there. And history shows that many inventions did not happen to solve a need or problem that society had identified.
So, how much evidence do we have that each of those models increase the later adoption of the product in the market? Which is most effective way to accelerate tech transfer and reduce our EU "death valley" between research and market? And how can we best combine demand-driven and curiosity-driven research?