Purpose: This paper investigates how a combination of diverse sources of knowledge is important for the generation of new ideas, and it addresses how institutional infrastructures and practices support integration of knowledge across organizations in medicine and life sciences.
Design: The paper investigates new product ideas that emerge from hospital and university employees and looks at the extent of interaction between clinical and scientific environments in the idea generation process. The paper utilizes a database of all new product ideas within life science that were filed in South-Eastern Norway in 2009 to 2011, including information about the individuals and teams that had been involved in disclosing these ideas. Interviews with inventors have also been carried out.
Findings: Interaction and integration across scientific and clinical domains are common and important for generating new product ideas. More than half of the disclosed life science ideas in the database come from groups representing multiple institutions with both scientific and clinical units or from individuals with multiple institutional affiliations. The interviews indicate that the infrastructure for cross-domain interaction is well-developed, particularly for research activities, which has a positive effect on invention.