Creating value from science Interaction between academia, business and healthcare in the Uppsala PET Centre case

University dissertation from Uppsala : Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Recent decades have seen greater focus, both national and global, on universities’ role in boosting economic growth. Besides teaching and conducting research, universities are urged to contribute directly to the economy by commercialising research findings and interacting with industry.This thesis explores the dynamics and effects of such interplay by concentrating on a particular case of interaction involving Uppsala University, Uppsala University Hospital and a large multinational corporation. More specifically, the aim of the study was to investigate how use of science and value creation from science are affected when actors belonging to disparate spheres interact closely. The thesis recounts the evolution of the Uppsala PET Centre, established as a University research institute in 1989, which has served both as a site for pre-clinical and clinical research and as an important resource in routine clinical work. The whole Centre was commercialised when a large firm acquired it in 2002, only to be decommercialised and returned to the University and the University Hospital less than a decade later.Using a network perspective, this thesis analyses the journey of the Uppsala PET Centre by studying interfaces between physical and organisational resources. The basic argument is that to understand the effects of inter-sphere interaction on science use, one must consider the materiality of science and differences between the interacting actor spheres in terms of preferences, norms and goals – ‘schemes of valuation’ in the present work. The study shows that the materiality of science has a restrictive impact on flexibility of science use, and different actors’ simultaneous use of science is therefore severely constrained. Because of these constraints, the actor spheres involved struggle to control physical scientific resources in ways aligned with their particular schemes of valuation. Sharing, turn-taking and efforts to separate overlapping use contexts become the means of managing the restricted scope for science use.Further, this thesis demonstrates that while interfaces containing physical resources are controllable and always result in some kind of value (albeit not necessarily on the scale expected), the outcomes of combinations of organisational resources connected with disparate schemes of valuation are impossible to anticipate and control.The thesis concludes that there are reasons to rethink our expectations of the short-term economic and social effects of university–industry interaction, a complicated affair that encompasses opportunities and unforeseeable challenges alike.