Full citation

McKelvey, M., et al. (2015). "Creating innovative opportunities through research collaboration: An evolutionary framework and empirical illustration in engineering." Technovation 39–40: 26-36.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Case study

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: This paper describes the evolution of business-university partnerships. The review of previous works examines the different attributions of discovery; some believe inventors discover opportunities and others believe opportunities are created.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant:  Community, Federal Lab, Government, Large business, Small business, University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Policy makers, Clinicians, Brokers, Manufacturers, Developers, Intermediaries, Users, Advocates, and Researchers.

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Individual, Organizations, Sectors

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary findings


Experts disagree about the basic origin of opportunities. Some believe opportunities exist “out there” waiting for discovery whereas others believe opportunities are synthesized by formulating an idea and realizing it through action.
Case study findings
Occurrences within model: NtK 1.2, 3.3, 4.2 


  • Innovations have three components: an innovative opportunity  consists of the following three components:(a)an economic value for someone; (b) mobilization of resources; and (c)the ability to appropriate at least some part of the economic value of the innovation, by the actor pursuing the opportunity.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK 1.2, 2.1, KTA 3.A
  • Businesses can collaborate with universities to enhance their current technological capabilities or to expand their subjective footprint.
    Case study findings
    Occurrences within model: NtK 2.2, 3.1


Founders of research collaborative firms may start multiple firms and cultivate clusters of businesses working off of the same pool of research and talent.
Case study findings
Occurrences within model: NtK 4.6