Case Studies in Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship
Edited by Maureen McKelvey and Astrid Heidemann Lassen
Chapter 10: How cross-fertilization of high-tech and low-tech sectors creates innovative opportunities: the case of the wearable electrocardiogram
It is recognized that knowledge cross-fertilization, originating from different academic disciplines, companies or business sectors is a source of innovative ideas. For example, the development of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS)1 technology since the 1990s, as the interdisciplinary product of electronics, mechanical engineering, optics and chemistry, and its booming commercial applications, which range from information and communications technology (ICT) to medicine and biotechnology, is a successful illustration of knowledge interaction pro- cesses between academic and high-tech industrial teams. Also, it is acknowledged that the co-location of diverse industrial sectors in a geographical region often generates greater innovative activity outputs (Feldman and Audretsch, 1999). Further, given the increasing pace of change, competition and complexity of markets, commercial success is often found among those ventures that are able to combine knowledge in unexpected ways, thus developing cross-boundary innovative solutions for specific market needs. This includes knowledge cross-fertilization between cutting-edge technology fields and mature industries. The case study presented in the current chapter describes the process of product development and the launching of a knowledge intensive entrepreneurship (KIE) venture operating in the cross-boundary market sector of electronic clothing. This case is focused on how the cross- fertilization of ideas and skills people originating from unrelated knowledge fields (electronics, business management and clothing manu- facturing) and different activity sectors (academic research, high-tech business and a mature industry) contributes to the development and commercialization of a cross-boundary product. Furthermore, it shows how contrasting knowledge bases may be unconventionally integrated in order to establish an innovative business.
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