The role of public innovation support in the Swedish food industry
Abstract: This thesis examines the role of public innovation support in the Swedish food industry and the aim was to better understand what such innovation support does in order to accelerate SMEs. The aim was further to evaluate the activities of such innovation support to propose improvements to be used in a future national expansion. The food industry is often considered as a low-technological industry with specific attributes and challenges and the author stresses a need for deeper insights in innovation processes in the industry. It has for a long time been neglected and there is a lack of acknowledgement of the food industry and the public sector in the literature about innovation intermediaries and accelerators. The research was conducted through a single case-study which explored the activities of a project called “Livsmedelsacceleratorn” (LIVA) in the region of Västra Götaland in Sweden. The data was collected through micro-ethnography and complemented by two semi-structured interviews with employees of LIVA. The results show that the public innovation support play an important role as an innovation intermediary and include many aspects of the how the literature describes an accelerator. The analysis presents five themes through which the role of the innovation support manifests and those are, building competence, connecting industry with research, creating networks, minimizing information asymmetries between actors and fostering innovation. The research shows that LIVA is very competent in matchmaking and that their network and close connection to research helps companies accelerate their businesses. Furthermore, the research proposes for the innovation support to have a stronger focus on companies in the growth phase with more specific and competence building activities targeted towards them. The findings in this thesis have practical implications for policymakers and public funding regions in their decision-making and specification of requirements.
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