Transformation of a research centre toward an innovation partner in the construction sector

Heli Koukkari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study innovation processes of the construction sector from the viewpoints of research‐based consultation at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Design/methodology/approach – The starting point of an internal analysis and benchmarking concerning the role of a research centre come from a Finnish product manufacturer that challenged its capacity to a short introduction lead‐time. Understanding as an opportunity, a core team is set up representing different expertises, and a co‐operation project is proposed to the manufacturer. In addition, an in‐house follow‐up project is created. After completing successfully the product development project, and based upon findings of the follow‐up project, a feasibility study is conducted concerning consultation packages for development of construction products and concepts. However, during this study phase, the objective of packages is replaced by an ideal of a collaborative process that integrates competencies, tools, and management of a research and development organisation, and links them to those of the customer.

Findings – The process model of a multi‐disciplinary commercialized research‐based consultation is a new way to organise work of a research centre, and its core is collaboration with the customer. During the follow‐up process, feasibility study and development of a research‐based process, approaches of the Action Research were applied. A market study and two external evaluations were made that gave partly consistent partly inconsistent results with the learning outcome concerning appeal of the new type of partnership. New sector‐wide strategies at the national and European level show however that key findings were justified. Next challenges in the development of the multi‐disciplinary innovation services concern internationalisation, external networking and globalisation.

Originality/value – The paper offers insight into the transformation of a research centre into an innovation partner with the construction industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • research organizations
  • innovation
  • construction industry
  • action research
  • partnership
  • Finland


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