How intermediary organizations facilitate university–industry technology transfer: A proximity approach
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The literature on university–industry (U–I) links has revealed many barriers that impede U–I technology transfer. A growing number of intermediary organizations, such as Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), University Incubators (UIs), and Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) have been established to mitigate such barriers. While the activities and effects of such intermediaries are frequently studied, conceptual understandings of how these organizations facilitate technology transfer are lacking. Our case study of nine Italian intermediary organizations shows that different types of intermediary organizations address the same fundamental issue of bridging the different logics of academia and industry in different ways. Based on a proximity approach, we develop a theoretical framework explaining how intermediary organizations can reduce cognitive, geographical, organizational, and social distance in U–I collaborations. Intermediary organizations address different proximity dimensions depending on the prior experience of academic and industrial actors and the nature of the knowledge that is transferred. In particular, TTOs focus more on improving cognitive and organizational dimensions, whereas UIs and CRCs attempt to reduce social and geographical distance.