Wind of change - Firm contributions to technological development in development phases
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Conflicting theories exist on the contribution to technological development that incumbents and startups have. Previous literature combined contrasting theories by stating that it depends on the industry sector whether incumbents or startups are more innovative, and thus contribute more to technological development. In this research the focus is on the technology level, by looking at what the contribution of different firm types in different stages of the technological development process is. The comparable offshore wind and wave energy sector in Norway, Denmark and Sweden are used to test if there is a difference in the contributions incumbents and startups have in the pre-dominant design, thus R&D, phase and the after-dominant design, thus deployment, phase. A database consisting of the 330 firms that are active in either of those sectors and several of their characteristics is the base of this study. The results show that firm size affects the contribution to technological development that firms have. Smaller firms have a greater contribution to technological development in the pre-dominant design phase, where larger firms have a greater contribution to technological development after the dominant design has been established. Firm age seems to have no effect on a firm’s contribution to technological development. Combining the firm characteristics with the development phases shows that no clear difference in the contribution to technological development between startups and incumbents can be identified. These results oppose to existing literature that concluded that the type of industry sector defines if incumbents or startups contribute more to technological development. It implies that policy based on stimulating innovation in both incumbents and startups is necessary if technological development stimulation is wanted. Furthermore, specific policy on the stimulation of wave energy in Norway, Sweden and Denmark can be useful in order to harvest the potential this sector houses.