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Reinventing Space Conference


Knowledge Networks at the

Heart of Space Industry:
The Case of Scotland

Matjaz Vidmar
University of Edinburgh

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Knowledge Networks at the Heart of Space Industry: The Case of Scotland

Matjaz Vidmar
University of Edinburgh
Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ; +44 (0)131 6688 461


This paper is outlining a pilot attempt to systematically study the relationship between the systemic macro level
(Malerba, 2002; 2005) and processual micro level (Pavitt, 2003) of innovation process in a high-tech industry (such
as Space); and the role public institutions (can) play in supporting new venture creation and growth in this context
(Dosi et. al., 2006; Smits and Kuhlmann, 2004). At its core is an enquiry into Business and Knowledge Networks
and the direct effect they have on new product development (NPD) in firms, particularly SMEs. In order to show
that this is a useful theoretical and empirical approach, I propose to examine Space Sector in Scotland as an example
of a high-tech sector in an interesting structural transition from “classical” towards “New Space” (Space IGS, 2010;
Adlen, 2011). So far the results are showing that this transition is easily identifiable when studying the networks and
the knowledge flow(s) affecting the creation of new products, leading to both a greater understanding of the
structure and the effects of the (knowledge) network(s) in the Space Industry as well as towards preliminary models
of how these networks can be developed and supported from an institutional point of view.

KEYWORDS: Space Industry, Research and Development (R&D), Business Development (BD), Networks,
Innovation Systems (IS), New Product Development (NPD), Knowledge Transfer (KT), Technology Transfer
(TT), Start-up, Spin-out

Copyright © 2015 by Matjaz Vidmar. Published by the British Interplanetary Society with permission.

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Understanding innovation and the ways in which it generates growth in the Space sector is the key for the success of
nation-wide ambitions for the development of this economic area. Whilst current trends are promising to deliver on
those ambitions, their realisation is in large part dependent on creating new business ventures based on innovation
from basic research.

To do so, we have to find answers for two main challenges: How to get (more) scientists and engineers to consider
commercialising their knowledge (spin-out)? and How to support the development and growth of these new
businesses (start-up and scale-up)?

Building on detailed micro-level studies of innovation process I would like to suggest that the solutions for these
two obstacles are far simpler than they might seem - not requiring neither significant investment nor complex
intervention programmes – they rest on matching the right people and institutions, who can then trade resources,
knowledge and skills.

Consequently, in my research I am using Social Network Analysis (SNA) to map out the knowledge network(s) of
the Space Industry in Scotland and its effect on the NPD processes in order to identify its key systemic
characteristics and developing a toolbox to influence its growth, in particular to help new ventures successfully
entering the sector.

In order to help facilitate the kind of intervention toolbox as mentioned above, a key link between the systemic
understanding of the sector and the innovation processes and practices in companies must be established. Given the
prevalence of network research - which is at the core of Innovation studies both at macro as well as micro level
(Freeman, 1991), due the fact that it covers the crucial aspect of knowledge commercialisation, namely interaction -
this is an obvious choice to bridge the two.

However, there is a key tension here is between two competing research modes: “techno-economic networks”,
proposing to study “activity” and “actors” and “techno-economic paradigms”, analysing longitudinal institutional
transitions (Green et. al. 1999). In an attempt at a merger of the two, Green et. al. (1999) suggest an analysis which

“[…] would be focused on the meso-level networks of institutions and actors at work in, for instance,
geographically bounded systems of innovation, scientific and technological disciplines, firms and their strategies
and informal linkages, and in specific examples of the nexus between production and consumption.”

This was shown, for instance, in relating business networks to the in different (nation) states to their performance as
(national) innovation systems (Kumaresan and Miyazaki, 1999). Importantly Kumaresan and Miyazaki (1999)
consider that a transitional network the best point at which to study the interaction in order to define the influence of
macro and micro trends (Ngwenya and Hagmann, 2011).

However, so far this was not taken to the in-depth micro level to understanding how innovation processes (Swann,
2009) actually link up to this structure (Malerba, 2006). Malerba (2006) also advocates a methodological approach
similar to the one I am adopting, as he suggests to:

“using a methodology that identifies first some empirical regularities, stylised facts or puzzles that need to be
explained, and then does quantitative analyses and formal modelling, which in turn feed back their results to
empirical analyses in the form of tests, insights and questions.” (Malerba, 2006:695)

Hence, switching focus from innovation system-network to network-innovation process level, I am proposing to use
quantitative network analysis to study “actors” and innovation process analysis to study “action”. Of course, rather
than focusing on connectivity per se, which links network studies to systemic approaches, I here focus on knowledge
flow, which links networks and the innovation process.

To do so, I am using in parallel the quantitative Social Network Analysis (SNA) tools (Scott, 1988) and in-depth
qualitative study of the NPD processes, to model the interaction between the micro level innovation process and the
systemic factors such a generation and dissemination of knowledge. This can then (in subsequent research) lead to

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the development of a more programmatic understanding of the innovation dynamics in an industry sector, which can
be tested and evaluated in the proposed intervention.


Analysis of the Space sector is ordinarily split into two main areas (see Table 1): upstream (hardware and data
acquisition) and downstream (data processing and applications) (OECD, 2007; 2011). There are three key types of
technologies, and consequently products/services, involved: Earth Observation, (GIS) Navigation, and
Telecommunications and Broadcasting (TSB SIG, 2014; SatApps Catapult, 2014).

The sector’s historic development is in 3rd phase - after the initial state monopoly (1st phase), the technology was
commercialised by large multinational corporations (2nd phase), and is now being democratised through innovation
and entrepreneurship as the previously complex and expensive hardware becomes smaller, more standardised and
cheaper (Space IGS, 2010). This is sometimes referred to as transition from “classical” towards “New Space”
(Adlen, 2011).

Table 1. Upstream vs. Downstream split in Space Sector.

Upstream Downstream

Big global players dominate “classical” “big space”

(launch and satellite) markets (SMEs and entrepreneurs Open data policies in Europe (ESA) and data providers’
can only provide a limited range of specialised products commercial interests even the playing field for satellite
in this context), opportunity for entrepreneurs to capture applications, hence large SME representation and share.
emerging 3rd generation (small sat) markets.

This transition is also key for the success of UK ambitions for the development of this economic area (Space IGS,
2010) and whilst current trends are promising to deliver on those ambitions (Space IGS, 2015; London Economics
2015), their realisation is in large part dependent on creating new business ventures based on innovation from basic
research (UK Space Agency, 2012).

UK space industry was in many ways the key for the transition between 1st and 2nd phase (e.g. UK was the first
country to commercialise its launch capability; the leading role of Sky TV in satellite broadcasting), and it is hoped
that UK can capitalise on similar leadership in the current transition.

In this context Scotland is an interesting case study as even though space industry in the UK has been a strong sector
for a long time (though slightly uncoordinated), this was mainly centred on the South-East (particularly Surrey and
Oxfordshire) and Scotland was mainly left out.

The emergence of the Space sector in Scotland is likely related to its political ambition over the past decade to create
a high added value sectors in order to diversify from the traditional dominance of oil and gas, financial services and
tourism in the Scottish economy.

However, the kinds of sustained investment as seen in the renewables sector was not directed towards Space
industry and most projects in this area are led by the UK government. In contrast, given Scotland's ambition to
support “living labs” (Scottish Government, 2013), the general support for innovation and cross sector cooperation
is very strong, in particularly in terms of earth observation projects driven by natural sciences, promoted in
particular through partnerships with NERC and SatApps Catapult’s Scottish Centre for Excellence.

Hence, the makeup of the Scottish sub-division of the UK Space Sector is very appropriate for intensive qualitative
and quantitative research studying innovation and growth in high-tech sector. This is due to:

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• Being a geographical sub-section of the UK Space Sector enables a comparative study of local, regional,
national and global interaction in innovation and NPD.

• A good mix of upstream and downstream players of a manageable size for a complete study: currently <20
companies with a few 100s employees; mainly SMEs, but some branches of corporations as well.

• Strong research base and institutional tradition in Space (in particular Dundee, Glasgow-Strathclyde and
Edinburgh Universities) and non-space (many institutes and research stations (i.e. “the living lab” argument
(Scottish Government, 2013)), for the study of knowledge generation and dissemination from basic

• Significant current political and economic interest, noted in particularly in roadmaps for Space Sector
adopted by the UK government - 8 Great Technologies (Willets, 2013), Space Innovation and Growth
Strategy (Space IGS, 2010, 2015), Health and Size of the UK Space Industry (UK Space Agency, 2014),
etc.; and ambitions for economic diversification by the Scottish Government.

Hence, I propose to study the company-level networks and their effects on the process of innovation in SMEs. The
companies are selected on the basis of:

• Socio-economic Environment (i.e. being located in Scotland/UK)

• Size (SMEs)

• Origin (start-up and/or spin-out)

• Space Focus (either downstream: i.e. mainly software companies using data gathered in Space; or
upstream: i.e. space hardware – technologies, parts, missions)

At this point, I will only study three carefully selected representative cases of particular parts of the spectrum of the
economic activity in the sector, as is outlined later.

The empirical work is grounded in a two way enquiry in the business network in the studied companies (with focus
on knowledge flow) and the structure of the NPD process(es). This is done with in-depth interviewing with both
semi-structured as well as structured (survey) questions, which lead to generation of qualitative and some
quantitative data.

Using ego-centric Social Network Analysis (SNA) (Scott, 1988) I will plot the business network for each of the
studied companies. Combining the networks from all actors across the sector will then result in the complete socio-
centric network. This is based on a survey-style questionnaire (Bryman, 2012), with multiple-choice answers, but
options for other (more expanded) answers as well. This survey is fully incorporated in the “data matrix” and is
filled out with some conceptual and some numerical data.

My work here follows the approach of Giuliani (2007a; 2007b), who have been researching knowledge networks in
terms of companies’ “absorptive capacity”, which is the ability to acquire and deploy knowledge in order to
innovate. Though I am more interested in the culture of innovation (in particular the direction of the “knowledge
flow”) and the level of networks’ integration in the NPD process, the examined qualities are similar (see Giuliani
and Bell, 2005).

The focus is on understanding a particular partner’s importance for the studied company, which I measure both in
subjective terms (ranked on a 1-5 Linklater Scale by the interviewee) as well as collecting information about
frequency and depth of the connection (in terms of the number of employees within the studied company who are
engaging with said partner). However, most of the applicable econometric work can only proceed once a full
network of the entire sector is established, hence it is excluded from present discussion and analysis.

Currently, the focus is more specifically the qualitative description of the knowledge flow and its direction, I collect
data on the typologies of collaboration with respect to:

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 purpose – is it about R&D, BD or commercial interests;

 nature – the degree of formality and depth of involvement (i.e. transaction vs partnership); and

 the “result” in terms of knowledge flow - IP ownership.

Though some of this data will be discretely plotted in the overall network map, this most of this information will be
summarised and contrasted across the three cases.

In order to analyse these network structures with respect to the effect(s) they have on new product development
(NPD), I developed a qualitative section to my study based around identifying “innovation moments” (Edwards,
2000; Edwards et al. 2005), be they procedural phases of NPD, or technical (R&D) or commercial (BD) challenges
for the progression of the project. I asked each of my interviewees to talk about two NPD processes (with optional
suggestion to describe one completed and successful, and one incomplete or failed project) and try to think of five to
seven “innovation moments” for each.

I then asked the informants to describe these key instances by outlining what a specific “moment” was about, how
did the R&D/BD team frame it, how did they look for “solutions”, how did they pick the “solution” they considered
best under the circumstance, and how was that “solution” integrated in the product/service being developed.
Particular focus, of course, is on engagement of external partners and the structure of the NPD processes, which
were extracted and are analysed in a later section.

Case Study Selection

As this study is in its pilot incarnation, I am focusing on three case studies, carefully selected to represent key
elements of the population of the field, i.e. a set of typical cases (Yin, 2009).

In particular, the selection criteria looked at:

 Having at least one downstream and one upstream company.

 Having one “classical”, one “transitional”, and one “New Space” company.

 Having at least one hardware manufacturer and one software manufacturer.

 Having at least one components supplier (i.e. in-sector supply) and at least one end user supplier (and
perhaps something in-between).

 Having a range of companies’ with respect to age and size.

 Having at least one spin-out and one start up.

Through detailed analysis of the companies in the Space Sector in Scotland, I have identified the following three
SMEs as the appropriate sample for the pilot study (see Table 2).

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Table 2. Key characteristics of the analysed companies.

Identifier “Classical” “Transitional” “New Space”

Sectoral Component Upstream Upstream Downstream

Products Hardware Software Product Software Service

Start-up (based on
Type Spin-out Start-up
previous experience)

Customers Space Industry Space Industry/End User End User

Age > 10 years < 5 years < 5years

Size ~ 20 ~5 ~ 10

Network Mapping
Key to this research is the analysis of the companies’ business network. This is plotted out on a graph (see Figures 1,
2 and 3), containing the information about

 geographical proximity

 strength of the relationship in terms of frequency, employee’s interaction coefficient, and (subjectively)
evaluated importance

 the domain of the relationship (i.e. R&D/knowledge acquisition vs. business development/commercial)

 the partner’s approximated size (SME/small, medium or large) and

 the type of the partner (public vs. private).

The visual information is supplemented with additional notes and analysis of the knowledge network, in particular
the flows of knowledge.


As knowledge dissipation is done through communication and sharing between individuals and organisations
(Malerba, 2005; Brown and Duguid, 2001), a key part of any innovation systems is its interconnectedness (Simard
and West, 2006). Sustainable innovation is crucially linked to the network of external partner a company can source
knowledge from and/or share its own resources (Tidd, Bessant and Pavitt, 2005:71). This is embodied in its business
network, of which the key component is the “knowledge network”, i.e. those external partners whose primary
importance for the company is acquisition of knowledge or shared research effort.

The “knowledge” networks hence provide the missing link between the understanding of the macro (or systemic)
make-up and dynamic of a technology sector, and the micro level R&D processes (“R&D” segment on plot), such as
sourcing relevant factual and tacit knowledge in the design of a product. However, other partners in the business
network are important for innovation as well, as they turn either support the business development (“BD” segment
on network plot) or are vital for commercial viability (”COM” segment) - i.e. customers, distributers, suppliers - of
the studied companies.

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The empirical work presented below is illustrating the preliminary findings of my analysis of business/knowledge
networks in the Scottish Space Sector, charting the differences between companies depending on their technology
area (software vs hardware) and (perhaps related) position within the transition to “New Space”.

The classical (“knowledge-push”) view is that technical knowledge flows through the network from the
academia/research through companies who commercialise it towards the end users and customers (Di Stefano,
Gambardella and Verona 2012). Bressan’s work (2004, 2008) on CERN and many other studies noted that it is the
communication between, and mobility of, people which is allowing for knowledge flows, as this is a key link
between the knowledge producers and users.

However, increasingly this is treated with great caution, in particular due to the significant importance of lead users
in product development especially in the emerging fields of high-tech, in particular IT. Interestingly, and perhaps
counterintuitively, these users are not as technically sophisticated as their “classical” counterparts, however, they
also have a clear set of requirements.

This transition is most fascinating as it shows us very clearly how changes in the systemic environment, i.e. new
opportunities due to changes to the institutional framework, can trickle down through the network (expansions) to
change the culture in the emerging (or growing) sector. In parallel, those changes propagate back through the
network via inclusion of new actors in the system to further fuel the transition until a new system equilibrium is
reached (i.e. the transition is completed).

Due to the fact that I am conducting this research at a transitional moment for the industry, I can conduct in-depth
studies of “classical”, “transitional” and the “New Space” companies and their products, all currently co-existing in
the growing Scottish Space Sector. Consequently, I have the unique opportunity to understand this transitional
dynamic and establish the network analysis as the key scaling factor to understand the relationship between the
innovation system and the process of innovation and NPD.

This is a crucial development, both theoretically, as well as in my ambition to influence the system (Duff, 1996)
through my participation in the future programmes run at the Higgs Centre for Innovation (STFC, 2013). However,
at the moment, with only three companies, the picture is fairly incomplete and conclusions presented below are
merely preliminary findings.

“Classical Space”: Linear Knowledge Flow

The studied “classical” upstream company has a small and very centred business network, however with a
significant global reach (greater than any of the other companies). The company considers its customers as the key
actors in their business’ network (see Figure 1 on next page). Also of key importance to them are their distributers,
suppliers and the key development and standard setting body, European Space Agency. They have two main types
of customers: the aerospace industry and space agencies. These include a variety of international multi-corporations
and research institutions.

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Figure 1. Business network map for “classical space” SME.

Their suppliers are mainly SMEs, dealing with component electronics manufacturing. They are all located in the
UK, mostly in Scotland. The company also has distributers (all SMEs) who cover their key markets, crucially the
USA. The distributers are by and large not involved in the R&D process, bar the occasional assistance in collecting
feedback from customers. Due to the prominent role these play in the network, the balance is tilted towards private
partners. They also have close relationships with the university from which they were spun and the Scottish
Enterprise, which funds a significant part of their R&D and assists with business training.

All their relationships are contractual, mainly due to strict IP protection regimes, though this is relaxed a bit when
dealing with their university of origin and in some cases ESA. The knowledge flow is minimal and in a distinct

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“technology push” direction (from public sphere/academia), with the exception of R&D feedback flowing in the
opposite direction. The “closeness” of their business network is exactly in line with high-performing SMEs other
niche high-tech sectors such as medical devices (Pullen et. al., 2012).

Transitional company: Connecting expert collaborators and users

Figure 2. Business network map for “transitional” SME.

The company considers the lead users and customers as the key parts of their business network (see Figure 2 above).
They place similar importance on their other R&D collaborators, in particularly ESA Research Centre, which is seen

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as an authority of international renown in this part of the sector; but also some private companies who could be
regarded overall as competitors – the concept called “co-ompetition”, which is also found amongst “big-players” in
space industry (Fernandez, Le Roy, and Gnyawali, 2014). It is not surprising then that it is those type of players that
the studied company is mainly involved in “co-ompeting” with.

Their main customers are academic and research institutions, hence the balance being tilted towards public partners.
They also have reasonably close relationships with a set of business support and development organisations, both
those from whom they contract help, as well as public bodies who perform their services on behalf of the (Scottish)

The knowledge clearly flows in both directions (to and from lead users, co-developers and customers). The expertise
within the R&D part of the network is providing a “technology push” over the key elements of their product
platforms, which are they are adapting (through “productising”) according to input from BD knowledge about
generic users’ requirements.

New Space: “Network is our life!”

This “New Space” company has an extensive business network (see Figure 3 on next page), mainly made up of
research institutes, knowledge/technology brokers and a set of lead users. The balance is slightly tilted towards
public sector partners. These (in addition to business support providers) are their key connections. Their
relationships are a mixture of shared research, knowledge acquisition and commercial transactions, with a
significant degree of informal interaction supplementing the core contractual ones.

The knowledge flows in both directions, particularly strongly in from the research institutions they collaborate with
and also from the lead customers. The IP is often shared with their research partners, and they have clear strategies
for knowledge acquisition and its management in the context of NPD process.

They extensively collaborate with local partners, but they are looking for global users. They appreciate greatly the
“city clustering” in Scotland, which is important for attracting non-Space and non-technical partners into their
projects (this will be explored in the next Chapter).


The overall dynamics of the three studied business networks (see Figures 1, 2 and 3) is completely in line with the
more qualitative descriptions of their NPD processes.

The networks are larger for the “New Space” companies engaging in CoPS-like R&D (Hobday, 1998), rich with
open innovation, and significant knowledge flows across the firm’s boundary are detected. This dynamics is
gradually diminishes as we examine the other two cases, with the “classical” Space company having a very one-
directional flow (and retain all of their IP within the company) and a relatively small core network.

Expected trends were also discovered in the public- to private- sector partnership ratios, and the levels of
commercial activities, R&D and BD. The more “New Space” a company is, the more it relies on knowledge flow
from public institutions for R&D, BD and commercial transactions, and the more such partners it has. In contrast a
more “classical” Space company has more private sector partners, mainly engaged in purely commercial activities,
such as distributers and suppliers, through which it is sourcing components and maximising the reach of its supply.

It is important to note, of course, that another key factor is that upstream (dealing with hardware, i.e. physical
products), have a more significant need for a commercial network of suppliers and distributers.

Geographical Proximity
Geographical proximity is often considered as an additional measure of strength and is presented on the plots as the
distance from the centre-point (denoting the studied company). Though the values measuring it are discrete (partner
in the same city, in Scotland, in the UK and in Europe, or a global partner), as I am more interested in proximity of
cultural and economic environment rather than a simple distance, they still clearly present an important trend.

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Figure 3. Business network map for “New Space” SME.

The “classical” Space company has a much more global network in comparison to the “New Space” one, for which
network density is much higher in the city of origin. This is in line with CTO’s comment about the importance of
non-Space actors for the kinds of products they develop. He explicitly mentioned:

“When I go to a Space cluster there is a lot of companies clustered together, but it is just high-tech […]. I think what
Scotland needs to champion is the idea that our Space Industry is embedded in larger entities – which is the cities.
[…] I think what Space needs to do is to move out of the Space Industry and into these other sectors and I don’t
think that is something you can do in a campus environment […], it needs to be in a city environment where they are
surrounded by other non-related sectors.”

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Scottish cities, due to their highly educated workforce and good provision of facilities and services were, are
commonly seen as an asset for developing and growing high-tech clusters, for example bio-tech (Leibovitz, 2004).

Corporate Size Proximity

A measure of “size proximity” (Giuliani, 2005b) was also included with a discrete and approximated estimate of
partner organisations’ sizes (as SME/small, medium or large). This however is again very inconclusive, due to small
data set, but an interesting potential lead is the fact that it seems “New Space” companies are much more interested
in partnering larger organisations (in order to accumulate more knowledge and create wider distribution area) in
contrast to “classical” Space, who source and distribute within a specialised niche market segment, hence have many
smaller (SME) partners (though they further supply to large CoPS integrators).


In linking the network analysis with the understanding of innovation process, we catalogued several interesting
phenomena, in particular the effect the size and complexity of the (knowledge) network a company has on the
“opening” of companies’ innovation platform. The range varies from the “classical” Space Sector’s in-house
development towards engagement with users and sourcing knowledge from a variety of external research partners in
the “New Space” model.

Open Innovation
The knowledge flows which are crossing the firm’s boundaries are associated with “open innovation”, a paradigm
(shift) explaining the supra-organisational nature of innovation in some of the most fast growing economic sectors in
the late 20th and early 21st century (Chesbrough, 2006:xx).

To sum it up, a company, which generates all of its innovation internally is considered as adopting a “closed”
innovation model, where control over NPD processes and full internal commercialisation of IP is deemed crucial. In
contrast, “open” innovation model is centred on a dynamic interaction crossing the firm boundaries (see Figure 4
below) and some ideas/knowledge being sourced into the NPD process from outside the company, as well as some
internal ideas being licensed out from company’s NPD process to others for commercialisation (Chesbrough,

Figure 4. The graphs representing the paradigms of "closed" vs. "open" innovation. In the first case, the
innovation process is contained within the organisational boundary of the firm, whilst in the latter it is
transcending this boundary. Source: Chesbrough, 2006.

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The mechanisms of Open Innovation in SMEs were charted by (Lee et. al., 2010) and involve potential insourcing of
knowledge and resources (investment) and outsourcing of IP and establishing new business models or entering new
markets (see Figure 5 below). Hence, it was these kinds of interactions with external partners that I was looking for
in my study of the NPD process in Scottish Space Sector SMEs.

Figure 5. Structural view of Open Innovation in SME. Source: Lee et. al., 2010.

“Openness” of Innovation and Industry Transition

Interestingly, when analysed through this framework we are again seeing a very clear divide between hardware and
software; upstream and downstream; and “classical” and “New Space”, with hardware upstream (“classical Space”)
companies tend to exhibit more “closed” innovation models than software and downstream (“New Space”) ones.

The trajectory is gradated with the “transitional” company in a clearly intermediate position, with an approximated
medium degree of “openness”. This is consistent with its overall position as laying in the middle of all the listed
dichotomous relationships (upstream-downstream, hardware-software, “classical”-“New Space”), as they are
bespoke software kit suppliers involved in upstream segment and the only company to actively pursue the sectoral
transition. The CEO explicitly commented:

“The company is trying to facilitate the transition to “New Space”. […] It’s about taking [ideas] from, say, app
development and applying them to the Space industry, whilst trying to accommodate the domain specific “stuff”
[such as high assurance].”

Consequences of “opening for the structure of NPD

Related to the “openness” of innovation is the structuring of the NPD process and the degree to which this is
formalised. Innovation management literature in this area is well developed, however there has been little research
about how NPD changes with the varying degree of “openness” of innovation.

Analysis of the companies participating in the pilot suggests that the more the innovation process is “open” the less
hierarchical it is, but also the more structured/standardised and formalised. This is based purely on empirical data
collected, and is to a degree contrary to the overall direction of the transition, which emphasises openness and
market liberalisation a as a process of de-structuring the “classical” set-up of the sector.

However, this is in line with anecdotal experience from most successful high-tech areas, where more formalised, yet
less restrictive, NPD protocols are being to be established in order to capitalise on as much innovation as possible

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(Neapole, -2015). There is clear evidence of such an approach to NPD in the most “New Space” company of those


It has to be stressed that the “preliminary observations” presented above are just that – very preliminary and mainly
observations. In order to extract a valid and sound theory out of this work, substantial further research is needed,
including expanding the research to include all Scottish Space Sector companies.

However, the gradual change of the analysed network features in the interviews as I moved from studying the
“classical”, through the “transitional”, to the “new Space” company, does make them a fair promise for the
subsequent study, which can now also be much more focused on understanding whether those trends are consistent
across the sector (i.e. I have made a good selection of very representative case studies) or merely a random
interpolation on a small sample.

I am very grateful to the support received from my research supervisors, Dr Alessandro Rosiello and Dr Julian
Dines, other mentors - in particular Dr Niki Vermeulen, Prof Robin Williams and Dr Raluca Bunduchi - all
participants in the study, and many others who have assisted me with my enquiries. I am sure there are still many
errors in this work, and those are all my own.

This research is funded through a (1+3) Pathway Studentship, bestowed by the Scottish Graduate School of Social
Science (SGSSS) on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is conducted in collaboration
with Innovation team at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC), part of Science and Technology Facilities
Council (STFC).

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