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How Engineering Sciences Can Impact Industry in a Global World

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
SEK 4 599 000
Project period
2016 - 2020
Project owner
Unit for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Department of Economy and Society, and U-GOT KIES

Research partners
Riksbankens jubileumsfond “Long-term Provision of Knowledge” research program, jointly financed by Formas, Forte, Swedish Research Council, and Riksbankens jubileumsfond

Short description

The purpose of this project has been to critically analyze how engineering sciences impact Swedish society, by examining three industrial sectors and patterns of interactions between university and industry. Engineering sciences as developed in interaction between university and industry are one relevant type of knowledge creation and dissemination that will contribute to solving contemporary problems, while also providing intellectual capabilities for future knowledge creation. Thus, studying the specificity of Long-Term Provision of Societal Knowledge within the engineering sciences matters for society, because new technological knowledge solves new societal problems, and are crucial for stimulating later knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship and business innovations.

Maureen McKelvey, Professor, has created and led this research project (cf. Principal Investigator, PI). McKelvey’s execution of this project in the research team has included both conceptual work as well as empirical studies. The research team has focused upon university-industry interactions in engineering, starting from the university, in order to discussion both the commercialization of academic research through entrepreneurship as well as academic engagement, defined as knowledge-based relationships. A mixed methods approach has been used. The qualitative  research is based upon semi-structured interviews and written material to discuss perceived rationale, benefits, capabilities, and long-term development. The quantitative data includes academic patents, papers and metrics for scientific outcomes as well as technological outcomes and knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial firms. Her team consisted of researchers directly funded through the project, as well as a number of PhD students and post-doctoral scholars financed through other projects, but working on related topics. Our three contributions below provide evidence and insights into how the knowledge economy is changing in Sweden.

Three particularly important contributions from McKelvey’s project

1) Developed conceptualizations of how universities are changing their interactions with society, specifically in engineering. Academic engagement defined as knowledge networks requires that both the partners of university and industry respectively develop capabilities for interacting around advanced knowledge creation. In doing so, they also need organizational structures such as centers and research programs. These organizational structures help to define the rules of the game, and mitigate the divergent goals and incentives to engage in knowledge creation in industry and universities. Scientists interacting in university-industry interactions thus face what is called differing institutional logics. We propose that one way to solve these conflicts is to develop hybrid spaces, with specific types of work practices, in order to balance these minority and majority logics. Moreover, we should how specific configurations for interaction can differ for types of engineering areas, but that the joint production of knowledge for most technologies appear to benefit from medium levels of cognitive distance between partners including university, industry and public public actors.

 2) Evaluated the structural conditions of policy initiatives to stimulate the performance of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial (KIE) firms through education. We examined a variety of entrepreneurship education in Sweden, in terms of differing mixes of theoretical and empirical educational practices. While we do not evaluate educational outcomes, we do find that entrepreneurial education can be constituted through a variety of configurations, which likely affect later outcomes in starting KIE firms, by affecting students’ ability to identify innovative opportunities and their willingness to tackle risk. Moreover, we find that in technological areas characterized by repeated collaborative engineering research, path dependence can be explained by individual-based knowledge networks with persons with PhD degrees as well as requires specialized capabilities in both universities and firms. This suggests the importance of policy initiatives to promote PhD education and mobility.

3) Examined and explained different patterns of academic engagement and university-industry interactions involving firms in high-tech, medium-tech and low-tech sectors. We find that nanotechnology tends to be driven by the commercialization of research results by academic scientists, whereas engineering for sports technology (specifically equestrian sports) tends to be driven by student projects with a wide variety of stakeholders. The field of control, signals and systems in Sweden has a broad range of deep interactions between university and industry, involving researchers as well as students, and with companies with deep technical knowledge.

Members in the project

Principal investigator
Maureen McKelvey

Evangelos Bourelos
Daniel Ljungberg
Olof Zaring



McKelvey, M.; Berg, K.;Brunnström, L.; Bourelos, E.; Gifford, E.; Hemberg, D.; Hermansson, I.; Lindmark, S.; Ljungberg, D.; Saemundsson, R.; Ström, V.; and Zaring, O. (2021). Forskningssamverkan och kommersialisering: Samhällets långsiktiga försörjning av ingenjörsvetenskaplig kunskap. Stockholm: Makadam förlag. 

Book chapters

Berg, K., McKelvey, M. (2020). ”Exploring industrial PhD students and perceptions of their impact on firm innovation.” In Bernhard, Gråsjö, Karlsson (eds.), Diversity, innovation and clusters: Spatial perspectives.Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, Storbritannien


Bourelos, E., Beyhan B., and McKelvey, M (2017). Is the Prominent Scientist also the One who Becomes an Inventor? A matching of Swedish academic pairs in nanoscience to examine the effect of publishing on patenting” Research Evaluation. 26 (2), pp. 144-156. Full text DOI:

Broström, A. & M. McKelvey (2018), “Engaging experts: Science-policy interactions and the introduction of congestion charging in Stockholm”. Minerva 56(2), 183-207 (fulltext). Open Access.

Niosi, J. and McKelvey, M. (2018). Relating business model innovations and innovation cascades: the case of biotechnology. Journal of Evolutionary Economics.28, 1081-1109. Open Access. DOI:

McKelvey, M., Saemundsson, R. Zaring, O. (2018). A recent crisis in regenerative medicine: Analyzing governance in order to identify public policy issues. Science and Public Policy. 45(5), 608-620. Open Access. DOI

Zaring, O., Gifford, E, McKelvey, M. (2019). Strategic choices in the design of entrepreneurship education: An explorative study of Swedish higher education institutions. Studies in Higher Education. 46:2, 343-358, Open access Full text DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2019.1637841

Perkmann, M., McKelvey, M., Phillips, N. (2019). “Protecting scientists from Gordon Gekko: How organizations use hybrid spaces to engage with multiple institutional logics.” Organization Science 30, 298-318. Open Access. DOI:

McKelvey, M., Zaring, O., & Szucs, S., (2020) Conceptualizing evolutionary governance routines: governance at the interface of science and technology with knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship, Journal of Evolutionary Economics 30:127, 591-608 (fulltext). Open Access. DOI

Hermansson, I., McKelvey, M., and Zaring, O. (2020). ”Organising an early phase of academic engagement: a case study of interactions between engineering and equestrian sports”. Innovation: Organization & Management. Published online 22 May 2020. Open access, Creative commons license. DOI:

Brunnström, L., Buenstorf, G., and McKelvey, M. (2020). ”Exploring the Role(s) of Researcher-Based Projects in Swedish University Incubators”. In Academy of Management Proceedings. 2020/1, 1-6. Published online 29 July 2020. Abridged version of best papers accepted for inclusion. Open access. DOI:

Zaring, O., Szücs, S. and McKelvey, M. (2021). Building Regional Innovation Capacity: linking knowledge-intensive innovative entrepreneurship and innovation governance. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business 42:1/2, pp. 27-50.

Broström, A., Buenstorf, G., and McKelvey, M. (2021). ”The knowledge economy, innovation and the new challenges to universities: introduction to the special issue. Innovation: Organization and Management. Published online 6 Oct 2020. Open Access. DOI:

McKelvey, M. and Saemundsson, R. (2020). ”The grey zones of technological innovation: negative unintended consequences as a counterbalance to novelty”. Industry and Innovation. Published online 28 June 2020. Open access. DOI:


Gifford, E. (2017). ”Utbildad personal viktigast för tillväxten”.

McKelvey, M. (2020). ”Forskningspropositionen 2020: Satsa på studenterna”.

McKelvey, M.(2021). ”Är det tillräckligt med innovation i innovationspolitiken?” Esbri panel med talare: M. McKelvey (GU); S. Sörlin (KTH); Å. Eriksson (Riksdagen); D. Isaksson (Vinnova); L. Hjälmered (Riksdagen); P. Sandvik (Rise). Available at: and

McKelvey, M. and Wennberg, K. (2021). ”Innovationsutredningen missar vad forskning säger” Esbri debatt. 2021-01-20.