Medical innovation management (MIM)

Research projects:

The Karolinska Institutet Intellectual Property (KIIP) Project - A Unique Patent Landscaping Effort

The KIIP-project is a large mapping study of all inventions and inventors at Karolinska Institutet (KI). It provides unique information of the patent productivity at Karolinska Institutet, transfer of patents and research collaboration etc. 

In the KIIP project innovation efforts are analysed based on patent flows. The KIIP-methodology, developed by Charlotta Dahlborg and Danielle Lewensohn between 2011 and 2013, involves matching the names of all KI-researchers to commercial patent databases and identifying their patents (see figure). All university inventors, employed 1995-2010, at every research department have been identified. 

Linked to the gathered inventor information (position, department, research group etc.), is data on patents, technologies and companies (number of patents and inventions, patent owners, spin-offs, geographical distribution of owners, patent legal status information, collaborations and networks etc.)

The KIIP-methodology can be used to evaluate technology transfer flows stemming from patenting, independent of university patent ownership legislation (‘Bayh-Dole Act’ or ‘Teacher’s exemption’). Analyses can reveal details on inventor-constellations, presence of star inventors, level of junior faculty patenting, industry-collaboration and invention transfer routes from laboratory to society.

To further develop innovation support and facilitate resource allocation, the results collected in the project can be combined with other sources of information such as scientific publication and financial data.

We investigate the following topics:

  • Inventive productivity of KI researchers
  • Inventor networks
  • University-industry collaboration
  • Invention ownership
  • Ownership transfers
  • Patent survival
  • Patent and commercialisation support
  • Resources allocated for innovation
  • IP management

Use of results:

  • Benchmarking of universities
  • Development of innovation performance metrics
  • Improvement of innovation support
  • Facilitation of resource allocation
  • Knowledge match making
  • Competence tracking
  • Technology intelligence and foresight

The KIIP-methodology and knowledge generated in the project will be applied at a national level to compare all Swedish Higher Education institutions. Also, future research aims to analyse academic research hospitals to capture the inventive capacity of Swedish health care professionals.

Alliance management

Pharmaceutical companies face many challenges related to difficulty in financing and filling their drug pipelines, therefore alliances between companies and other organizations have played an increasingly important role in overcoming these difficulties by sharing resources. Nevertheless, the risk of alliance failure remains high, and this creates challenges in managing and maintaining collaborations. 

Strategic alliances are cooperative arrangements between two or more firms to improve their competitive position and performance by sharing resources (Hitt, Dacin, Levitas, Arregle & Borza, 2000a; Jarillo, 1988). Alliance management begins with selecting the right partner. Furthermore, alliances must be managed to build mutual trust, a common goal, social capital continuous learning and knowledge.  For this purpose, many organisations have developed dedicated alliance management functions which are organisational units with the mission of strategically coordinate alliance activity and capture and disseminate alliance-related knowledge.

In this research project we examine the management of strategic alliances and the development of alliance management capabilities. Specifically, the emergence and role of the dedicated alliance function is studies. We link together alliance research with strategy and management research and contribute to alliance research by unravelling the concepts of alliance management and alliance capabilities. The main method of this project is case studies with large pharmaceutical companies. 

Knowledge transfer in university-industry interactions

The distributed nature of knowledge and capabilities creates a need to acquire such resources externally. Even though knowledge and capabilities can be acquired externally, they still have to be integrated into the existing knowledge base of the firm. In order to be able to maximise the advantage of external knowledge assets the firm has to have enough internal knowledge enabling it to perform the integration process (Powell et al, 1996). 

The overall purpose of this research project is to study the management and organisation of inter-organisational arrangements in the biotechnology industry and how they influence the performance and value building of companies. 

The unit of analysis is collaborations between biotechnology firms and research groups at universities. The focus is on two aspects, firstly the transfer process of knowledge and other resources between collaborators and secondly how companies build organisational capabilities for knowledge transfer. 

The aim is to examine how external resources and dispersed knowledge are internalized into an organisation. This involves identifying critical factors such as facilitators, barriers and main drivers in the internalization process. To accomplish the aim we apply a multiple case studies methodology on companies in the biotechnology industry. 

Organisational and attitudinal aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation in academia

Universities have two main tasks. The first is to create new knowledge, typically through trough research. The second is to diffuse knowledge to society. The diffusion of knowledge can be achieved in three main ways, namely through 1) education, 2) communication of research results and 3) commercial activities. Universities with an outspoken ambition to participate in commercial exploitation of research results have been referred to as “entrepreneurial universities”; a term coined by Etzkowitz (1983).

In this research project the internal organisation of the university and the attitudes of its employees with regard to entrepreneurship, innovation and intellectual property are studied. In particular, we focus on capabilities required to adapt to the changing environment of the entrepreneurial university.

The aim is to explore how researchers and university managers perceive the university’s capabilities to support researchers in their collaboration and innovation activities. In particular, we investigate the perceived enablers and barriers towards 1) collaboration, 2) patenting of research results, and 3) commercialization. A combination of research methodologies are applied such as interviews, focus groups and surveys are used.


Peer-reviewed articles

Dahlborg, C., Lewensohn, D. and Sundberg, C.J. (2013) "Investigating inventive productivity at Sweden’s largest medical university", Int. J. Technology Transfer and Commercialisation, Vol. 12, Nos. 1/2/3, pp.102–120.

Lewensohn, D.,Dahlborg, C.,Kowalski, J. and Lundin, P. (2015) "Applying patent survival analysis in the academic context", Research Evaluation.

Media coverage

Engelmark, S. (2014) "De bygger databas över forskares patent". In Curie, Vetenskapsrådet. 

NyTeknik Debatt - ”Plocka upp patenten ur byrålådan”

Life Science Sweden - "Vill följa upp universitetens patent"


Charlotta Dahlborg

Danielle Lewensohn

Carl Johan Sundberg, Head of research

Collaborators and supervisors

Rickard Danell, Associate professor Umeå University

Richard Gold, Professor McGill University

Per Lundin, Thomson Reuters, Karolinska Institutet

Anna Nilsson Vindefjärd, Senior Researcher

Ebba Sjögren, Assistant Professor, Stockholm School of Economics

John Skår, Associated