HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège
HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège

Master thesis : "Valorisation as the third mission of universities : the Benelux ecosystem."

Voets, An ULiège
Promotor(s) : Pauwels, Piet
Date of defense : 10-Jun-2023 • Permalink :
Title : Master thesis : "Valorisation as the third mission of universities : the Benelux ecosystem."
Author : Voets, An ULiège
Date of defense  : 10-Jun-2023
Advisor(s) : Pauwels, Piet 
Committee's member(s) : Vogt, Jürgen 
Language : English
Number of pages : 49
Keywords : [en] knowledge transfer
[en] valorisation
[en] third mission
[en] universities
Discipline(s) : Business & economic sciences > Strategy & innovation
Target public : Researchers
Professionals of domain
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en sciences de gestion, à finalité spécialisée en MBA
Faculty: Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège


[en] Publicly Funded Research Organisations (PROs) have three main mission: education, research and knowledge valorisation. This third mission is the most recent one and is still evolving. Knowledge valorisation (KV) entails creating value from knowledge generated by a PRO to the benefit of society. While the main focus in the past was on economic activities (patents, spin-offs, revenues from service activities), impact or societal valorisation is currently included in a broader definition of KV.
Because of a large variety in contexts that PROs operate in, there are also many ways how they organize KV. This thesis set out to investigate input factors or resources that can influence KV success and possible measures (metrics) to monitor this success. Existing frameworks from literature covering knowledge transfer business models, third mission models and knowledge transfer capability maturity were challenged in a BeNeLux setting. Eight out of 24 BeNeLux universities provided input via a questionnaire and eleven stakeholders (including directors of Knowledge Transfer Offices (KTO) or impact units, policy advisors, representatives of university or KTO networks and an impact researcher) participated in interviews.
The academic KV landscape is very diverse in the BeNeLux from the organisation perspective. Nevertheless, there were similarities in terms of KV staff profile description and the broad and diverse range of KV activities within single PROs. Strong leadership, consistent incentives and a potential partnership with other KTOs for expertise sharing were recommendations for success. Governments should be involved in discussions about incentives and metrics. When PRO leadership and governments conclude that broad KV (economic ánd societal) is important, that should be evident from their actions and policies. Regarding metrics, there is a need for innovation at the level of the existing classical indicators that do not always reflect the desired outcomes. On the other hand, metrics for societal valorisation are still in its infancy and the search for quantifiable more universal metrics than storytelling is ongoing at the international level. The thesis concludes with a discussion on several points for further research and a number of recommendations at the level of the university management, governments and policy makers, KTOs and researchers: 1) walk the talk when you decide that KV is important and translate this strategy into operational measures, 2) collaboration and specialization of KTOs can be a key to regional gains in overall KTO efficiency and 3) economic and societal valorisation should for now be seen as two distinct activities with different maturity and output expectations.



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  • Voets, An ULiège Université de Liège > Mast. sc. gest. MBA


Committee's member(s)

  • Vogt, Jürgen
  • Total number of views 26
  • Total number of downloads 2

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