The aim of this thesis to investigate what characterises the interaction between firms and research institutions forming alliances in User-driven Innovation Projects. User-driven research aimed at promoting innovation is considered an area of priority for the Norwegian Government. One of the main instruments for distributing financial support stimulating increased R&D in business and industry is the User-driven Innovation Project, administered by the Research Council of Norway. Projects initiated under this instrument frequently entail the formation of an alliance between a firm and an academic research institution, i.e. a university or a research institute. Since the mid 1990’s the Research Council of Norway has financed systematic investigations of the measurable economic effects and success of these projects. However, the processes and social circumstances surrounding the alliance formations and relations embedded in the projects have not been subject to the same systematic scrutiny. The focus of this thesis is to explore the interaction and relations that exist, or are established, between organisations in this context. This thesis is a qualitative exploratory study of six recently established projects, including a closer examination of both the motivation and the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the alliance and the relation. Thus, some of the factors that characterize the interaction between the players are identified. The projects are examined in light of Ranjay Gulati’s concept of network resources and Mark Granovetter’s ideas on strong and weak ties.
Keywords: User-driven research, innovation, interaction, alliances, R&D partnerships, network resources, user-driven innovation project