The Roles of Research and Technology Organizations in Europe: Viable strategies for RTOs
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The phenomenon of Research and Technology Organizations (RTOs) has been around since the early 1930s. Most countries or regions now have their own RTOs that where originally founded to assist local industries and organizations in the development and implementation of technologies and products. In current times the innovation and research services that the RTOs aim to deliver are increasingly coming under pressure due to an ever‐changing environment. Due to technological developments, globalization and the changing roles of competitors RTOs need to take notice of these changes and seek out viable strategies in which they are able to fulfil their mission and the critical role that they play within the national context. At the moment these changes lead to more and more questions concerning the relevance and justifiability of the large sums of government funds supporting RTOs in their endeavours to fulfil their roles. In this paper we will utilize Porter’s Five Forces model and innovation system theory to assess the position of four European RTOs and generate insights into viable strategies that will allow the RTOs to continue their endeavours to drive innovation and economic growth. For the foreseeable future the results indicate that there are two general strategies that the RTOs can pursue. They can either pursue the increased legitimization to assure government funding in the future or they can commercialize and decrease the social aspects of their current role. Depending on the strategy the RTOs decide to follow, a gap will be created in the knowledge routs of the current NIS that will need to be filled. From a policy viewpoint, the governments will need to decide whether they want the RTOs to oil the NIS interactions, generate knowledge or do both. In either case the alignment of mentalities between RTO management and local governments seems to be key to the future survival and performance of RTOs.