Exploring the impact of life science intermediaries on knowledge exchange and commercialisation
: using a constructivist grounded theory methodology

  • Deborah Spencer

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis presents a Constructivist Grounded Theory study that explores the impact that life science specific intermediaries have on knowledge exchange and commercialisation. Many of the life science intermediaries (LSIs) that operate to bridge the divide between industry and academia receive public funding, and many have come and gone. It is important for us to better understand the reasons behind this turnover and how we can develop LSIs that have staying power. The research explores what LSIs are and the different ways they can impact on knowledge exchange and commercialisation. The study engaged 22 different LSIs sites from the UK, Holland and France. These 22 different LSIs have been placed into five different Case intermediary models, moreover, 30 interviews were conducted, informal observations were collected and field notes also known as memos were taken throughout the research process. Through the use of Constructivist Grounded Theory five theoretical concepts emerged, these included the following: that a LSI needed to have commercialisation targets, those with KEC objectives embedded had more chance of gaining further funding, and they require sufficient time and that funding resources are adequate and they should employ staff from both academia and industry within the LSI. A theoretical framework model that can be used to help design and develop a high functioning LSI is presented. Discussions with policy decision makers and the expectations from a range of stakeholders feed into this framework model.The theory development adds to the knowledge on innovation intermediaries and in particular the sectoral systems of innovation (SSI) which allows for a more focused approach on innovation intermediaries from a single sector viewpoint. Furthermore, the study feeds into more recent research on the reason why intermediaries fail.
Date of Award26 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorReza Kouhy (Supervisor) & Gavin C. Reid (Supervisor)


  • Constructivist grounded theory
  • Life science intermediaries
  • Knowledge exchange and commercialisation
  • Expectations gap

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