About Michael

Michael Boronowsky is Managing Director of the Innovation Capability Center at the Center for Computing Technologies, University of Bremen (Germany). After his Diploma in Electrical Engineering at University of Applied Science in Aachen, Michael became leading development engineer in a measurement device company. During and after his study he was responsible to coordinate research cooperation and to integrate research results into the development of innovative products. He went back to university and studied Computer Science in Nijmegen (Netherlands) and received a Master in Computer Science in 1995. Since this time he is working at the University of Bremen in different roles. After he had finished his PhD he became managing director of the TZI. Throughout his career he was interested to be an actor within the science-industry interface and he became an international expert in the field of knowledge- and technology transfer. He is part of the team that has initiated the ISO/IEC 15504 based model innoSPICE. His interest is to establish standards in knowledge intense institutions, to support generation of efficiency gains in the field of innovation and to help investors and research institutions to optimize public funds to achieve economic added value.

German-African Innovation Incentive Award 2018 of the BMBF

Four African scientists awarded by Federal Minister of Research Anja Karliczek for outstanding research achievements

Mrs. Tanja Woronowicz from the Innovation Capability Center participated on invitation of the Federal Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF) at the event of the German-African Innovation Award 2018 as multiplier in the field of international collaboration. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek honored four scientists from Africa for their outstanding research achievements with the German-African Innovation Award.

Federal Minister of Research Karliczek with the winners of the German African Innovation Incentive Award

On the occasion of the award ceremony, Federal Minister Karliczek said: “The German-African Innovation Award is a measure within the framework of our Africa Strategy, which the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has set up to support science, research and development in Africa. I am pleased that today we are honoring such promising talents and projects. The award winners are making bold progress with their joint projects, which provide innovative solutions in Africa and offer people new perspectives. We want to honor your scientific achievements today and thus promote sustainable development on the African continent. Because it is important to us and also a core goal of our Africa strategy to support scientists in their research. Therefore, we will award the prize in the coming years, in order to continue to provide important impulses for German-African cooperation and innovation in Africa. The prize is awarded in the form of project funding for German-African cooperation projects. The aim is to strengthen local and regional innovation capacities in the African partner countries. At the same time, the foundations for the establishment of a sustainable innovation structure are to be created. New and skilled jobs can be created in this way in Africa.

This year, scientists from Uganda, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria were awarded together with the German cooperation partners from Humboldt University in Berlin, the University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart, the University of Kassel and the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing. The prize is endowed with 150,000 euros each. The award-winning projects deal with innovative solutions in different areas of life: A novel multimedia application for mobile phones improves health information for pregnant women, including illiterates, in rural areas. Cassava shells, otherwise only waste material in Africa, are processed into new, high-quality building materials. In the German-Egyptian cooperation, novel energy supply systems for buildings are being developed that reduce the cooling energy requirement. And the problem of high post-harvest losses in Africa due to improper storage is adressed by a new grain storage technology, which will be used by local start-up companies.

See also press release: https://www.bmbf.de/de/deutsch-afrikanischer-innovationsfoerderpreis-2018-verliehen-6133.html

Download the PDIA Practitioner Guide „Building State Capabilities“ for free

We want to put some attention to the remarkable work of the team that has initiated the important principles of the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). Our center is convinced that PDIA will become an important standard in capability development in the near future. To support practitioners to catch the ideas of PDIA and to put it into practice the authors Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock have published the book Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action. PDIA is a problem driven and result oriented approach with great relevance in many development programmes. To make this knowledge available also in low income countries tha authors negotiated with their publisher to offer the ebook as free download. This is a very remarkable decision as according to our expertise the ideas of their work will help to increase the impact of many capability development initiatives: to involve as many people as possible in following PDIA deserves to be highly recognized!

For more information visit the website of the Building State Capability at Harvard University.


Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action

Download the ebook for free

Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock
Oxford University Press, 2017

Governments play a major role in the development process, constantly introducing reforms and policies to achieve developmental objectives. Many of these interventions have limited impact, however; schools get built but children don’t learn, IT systems are introduced but not used, plans are written but not implemented. These achievement deficiencies reveal gaps in capabilities, and weaknesses in the process of building state capability.

This book addresses these weaknesses and gaps. It provides evidence of the capability shortfalls that currently exist in many countries, analyses this evidence and identifies capability traps that hold many governments back—particularly related to isomorphic mimicry and premature load-bearing. The book then describes a process that governments can use to escape these capability traps. Called PDIA (Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation), this process empowers people working in governments to find and fit solutions to the problems they face. This process is explained in a practical manner so that readers can actually apply tools and ideas to the capability challenges they face in their own contexts. These applications will help readers implement policies and reforms that have more impact than those of the past.

The book is available for purchase from Oxford University Press (UK, USA) or Amazon (UK, USA). The book is also available as a free download under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Creative Commons License

 

Self Commitment to the “Doing Development Differently Manifesto” and to PDIA Principles

Dr. Boronowsky signed on behalf of the Innovation Capability Center at Bremen University the “Doing Development Differently (DDD) Manifesto”. The Manifesto is a statement of the Doing Development Differently workshop. The workshop was hosted in October 2014 by the Building State Capability (BSC) program at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

The Innovation Capability Center is fully agreeing to the common principles of successful initiatives addressed in this manifesto:

  • They focus on solving local problems that are debated, defined and refined by local people in an ongoing process.
  • They are legitimised at all levels (political, managerial and social), building ownership and momentum throughout the process to be ‘locally owned’ in reality (not just on paper).
  • They work through local conveners who mobilise all those with a stake in progress (in both formal and informal coalitions and teams) to tackle common problems and introduce relevant change.
  • They blend design and implementation through rapid cycles of planning, action, reflection and revision (drawing on local knowledge, feedback and energy) to foster learning from both success and failure.
  • They manage risks by making ‘small bets’: pursuing activities with promise and dropping others.
  • They foster real results – real solutions to real problems that have real impact: they build trust, empower people and promote sustainability.

Our center wants to be member of the emerging community of development practitioners and observers, that believes that development initiatives can – and must – have greater impact. We pledge to apply these principles in our own efforts to pursue, promote and facilitate development progress, to document new approaches, to spell out their practical implications and to foster their refinement and wider adoption.

Furthermore, we want to point out the importance of an approach called Process Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) for building and developing state capabilities. PDIA is the building block of a fast growing initiative “Building State Capability” that is currently also supported by World Bank. We considerate it the future in building capability and will give a deeper analysis of PDIA and its adaptation to the domain “building innovation capability” in our next blog posting.

The development approaches of our center in the field of knowledge transfer, research valorization and innovation are highly in line with the ideas of PDIA. We understand all developments as highly contextualized with a strong need for local solutions of problems that require exploration, experimentation and failures as well. We do not believe that brute force copies of external best practices, tons of foreign “lecture style” trainings or huge investments in infrastructure without real adaptation to the local systems will help to generate sustainable societal and economic impact of research driven activities.

The tools and methods of the Innovation Capability Center follow the ideals addressed in the DDD-Manifesto and they are conformant to the principles of PDIA. They are supporting iterative continuous management approaches that can be adapted to any maturity level of organizations and are driven in a bottom up fashion, like the ISO/IEC standard conformant process reference model innoSPICE. Our center wants to complement input-output driven approaches. According to our experiences,  conventional evaluation methods might  be misleading for developing innovation systems. We provide sensitive instruments in capability development which feed small initiatives with space and conditions they need to grow.

The Innovation Capability center is committed to spread the word and the necessity of the principles of the DDD-Manifesto, approaches like PDIA, CLA and Adaptive Management among their partners and beyond. We want to be a part of an equal minded community digging deeper and do not stop until problems are solved in the real world and not only in papers!

The management team of the Innovation Capability Center at Bremen University

Dr. Michael Boronowsky & Tanja Woronowicz

P2L2 – Kick Off Meeting, Bremen

From Unbenannt13.-15.6.2015, the Kick-Off meeting of the P2L2 (Public Policy Living Lab) project takes place. With Bremen as Lead Partner, the project supports six European regions to improve their innovation strategies in the area of advanced materials. The guiding question of this INTERREG EUROPE project is: how can regions co-operate beyond their own organisational boundaries. The two-fold aim is to increase the individual strength of the different locations and the implementation of their RIS3 strategies.

TDWE_0109he project has a runtime of four years and is coordinated by the Innovation Capability Center of the University Bremen. It strategically supported by the Senator of Economy, Labour and Ports and by the Business Development Agency Bremen (WfB) forming the Bremen regional partnership for the project. Besides the Bremen team, public authorities from Denmark, France, Italy, Lithuania and Poland are members of the consortium. Three objectives are addressed by:

  • Fostering research and innovation for an improved cooperation between EU regions in the field of advanced materials. For Bremen there will be a specific focus on the new technology center EcoMat (Center for Eco-Efficient Materials);
  • Coordinating effective regional development and innovation policies. This also includes the question how double structures can be avoided and a better alignment of different actors can be achieved;
  • Improving the toolset and methodologies for the development and implementation of smart specialization strategies. In this context the project will develop a process oriented model, that will be used for a limited policy mapping of the participating regions. This model is based on the innoSPICE, improvAbility and ProductAbility methodology.

The P2l2 project will be implemented in close co-operation with regional stakeholders from science, economy and governmental organizations. One important stakeholder – among others – is the AIRBUS production facility in Bremen, that will host a part of the P2L2 Kick-Off Event. New materials, advanced manufacturing (and 3D printing) are important enabling technologies e.g. for the Aerospace industry. p2l2-footer

SPICE Conference 2016, Dublin

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The 16th International SPICE Conference (SPICE 2016) took place in Dublin, Ireland, 9-10 June 2016. Tanja and Michael from the Innovation Capability Center of the University of Bremen participated in this important annual meeting of the ISO/IEC 11504 & ISO/IEC 330xx community. IMG_3156The very international event attracted over 60 participants from all over the world. It is very clear that even in the age of agile and DevOps the relevance of process oriented quality management is sill of importance. The conference is a very good opportunity to meet the members of the huge SPICE User Group Family.

IMG_3150The keynote of the second day was presented by Jorn Johansen from Whitebox (Denmark). Jorn was giving insights to a study that was carried out in 2014: The “productAbility” Model is a way to assess the capability of organizations to develop new products from technological innovations. This model is again a good example how process models can help to improve the process quality on companies management level. Jorn pointed out, that it is important that quality management should be an  integral part of the thinking of companies top management level. Far to often quality goals are in conflict with other KPIs in an organization.

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SPICE conference was a great opportunity to meet. Here Tanja and Michael are discussing about process reference models for the development and implementation of innovation strategies in the context of the new P2L2 INTERREG EUROPE Project. (Jorn Johansen, from Whitebox – middle; Prof. Antanas Mitasiunas, MitSoft – right, Tanja to the left).

Thanks to the host from Dublin City University. They did an excellent job and presented a well organized event – it was great to meet you all again. The SPICE conference 2017 will take place in Palma de Mallorca or in Vienna. The final decision on this will be communicated soon! See you next year :-).

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Enjoying the sun at the conference social event at the famous Irisch Pub “Brazen Head”.

Innovation Capability Center on ILA, Aircraft and Space Fair

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IMG_3068Dr. Michael Boronowsky visited the ILA Berlin Air Show on 2.-3.6.2016. Goal of the visit was to promote the new INTERREG EUROPE project P2L2 (Public Policy Living Lab) and to support our partner cbProcess presenting our commom project cbCert.

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Presenting the cbCert project on the cbProcess booth of the BDLI.

This visit was also an excellent opportunity to meet with regional stakeholders (like AIRBUS and AIRBUS DS) and to learn more about the lates trends in Space and Aircraft technologies.

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Rainer Elvermann, CEO from cbProcess (4th person from left) introduces the cbCert Project to a high level delegation on the AIRBUS booth (Prof. G. Gruppe, Board Member of DLR, 3rd person from right)

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State of Bremen is presenting the new EcoMat center

The federal state of Bremen presented on their own booth the ECOMAT (Center for Eco-Efficient Materials and Technologies). The Innovation Capability Center of the University Bremen supports ECOMAT as methodical partner in the area Organisation / structures / processes. The cbCert project provides a tool for context based knowledge management and certification and the new P2L2 project is a policy oriented project to foster research and innovation in advanced materials:

  • coordinated and effective regional development and innovation policies
  • cooperation between EU regions in the field of advanced materials and Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM).
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Deputy Prime Minister Ilse Aigner, of the State of Bavaria. ILA Charlet of Federal States Bremen, Lower Saxony, Bavaria.

The ILA was also a impressive demonstration about the importance of the Aerospace domain in the northern part of Germany.

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Rainer Elvermann, cbProcess (right) after successful presenation of his company on the ILA.

 

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Space Pavilion on the ILA

 

Participation in the FETRIC Stakeholder Workshop, Tunisia

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The Team of Innovation Capability Center participated in the Stakeholder Workshop that was organized by the  Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHESR) and the Project Management Agency (DLR-PT) in the context of the FP7-FETRIC Project.

Agenda FETRIC Stakeholder Workshop

Agenda of the Workshop

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Tanja Woronowicz is presenting the findings of the three innoSPICE assessments.

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Prof. Dargouth, president of IRESA and partner of the DAAD RAMSES Project, in discussion with Tanja Woronowicz and Prof. Ralf Isenmann from University of Bremen.

Mrs. Tanja Woronowicz presented the results of three innoSPICE assessments that had been carried out during the last month in three Tunisian research centers (CERTE, CRTEn, CBS). These results were discussed with participants from the different research organizations and leading representatives form the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Research.The detailed analysis provided by Tanja and her conclusions were commented by the participants very positive.It was remarked “that thecenters had participated in several different assessments, but that the innoSPICE approach can really help to improve the situation of the centers”. Prof. Ralf Isenmann gave an introduction to the methods foresight and road mapping. He is professor at the Munich University of Applied Science and also Member of the University of Bremen (IPMI). Dr. Michael Boronowsky presented the University of Bremen and introduced the Innovation Capability Center to the audience. In this context he also gave a brief introduction to the DAAD Ramses project that is performed in collaboration with the Tunisian IRESA institute.

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Impression from the wonderful conference location at the Movenpick Hotel in Tunis.

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Dinner in the Medina of Tunis

Innovation Capability Center visited Agya Conference, Berlin

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Migration and Transnational Cooperation

Dr. Michael Boronowsky from the innovation Capability center at the University of Bremen visited the conference

Migration and Transnational Cooperation in Education, Research and Innovation, 2 – 3 May 2016, Berlin, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Kapelle-Ufer 1, 10117 Berlin.

Migration and flight open up a wide variety of chances and cause at the same time major challenges to societies in the Arab world as well as in Europe, including Germany. The AGYA Working Group Arab and German Education provided new impetus on migration issues, in particular from Arab perspectives, and discussed on education across borders. In five thematic workshops renowned scientists and high-ranking experts addressed the following topics:

  • Agya-posterIntegrating migrants into the university
  • Innovation and knowledge transfer
  • Online and blended learning initiatives and institutions
  • Teacher education and education research
  • Migration research and education

Furthermore, the event offered a dialogue platform for Arab and German university presidents to enhance the mutual recognition of conditions and requirements in the respective higher education systems and to facilitate circular migration of students and scientists.

The event was visited by 200 scientist and Universities leaders from 19 Countries. It was an excellent platform for exchange on operative but also on a political level. The Innovation Capability Center visited the workshop for technology transfer and innovation, where several presentations were given related to the current situation of tech trans in the Arab world and several best practices were introduced during this event.

First innoSPICE Assessment at IRESA for the DAAD Ramses Project

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The RAMSES project Team from University of Bremen, David Wewetzer and, Dr. Michael Boronowsky, performed an innoSPICE Assessment on management level at the Tunisian research institute IRESA, from 21.3-23.3.2016. It was the first assessment of a planned series of innoSPICE assessments within the networks of the connected Research Institutes and Higher Education Institutions. IRESA is comprising 23 Research Centers and HEIs and is directly connected to the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture. IMG_2929The DAAD RAMSES project has the goal to improve the management capacities in the area knowledge- and technology transfer. This assessment was focusing on the validation and reflection on the new structures, that are currently established within IRESA. The IRESA team was headed by the President of IRESA, Prof. Mohamed Aziz Darghouth.

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The Team from Bremen University was very impressed how fast the whole IRESA Team was getting into the innoSPICE approach. The overall atmosphere oft he assessment was very open and targeted. The three days were very dense and productive, and a lot of challenging details, related to improvement of organizational processes had been discussed.It was summarized by the participants that the assessment was
a valuable and helpful experience and that there is an interest to learn how to integrate this approach into the management practices of IRESA.

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The innovation Capability Center team is very happy about this cooperation and we are looking forward to continue the project work soon.

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Academia-Industry Interface Improvement – Absorptive and Desorptive Capacities

Academia Industry Collaboration for innovation

Photo based on Petr Kratochvil under Public Domain License (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=72981&picture=hands-holding-jigsaw&large=1)

Introduction

We, the Innovation Capability Center, are sub-titling our activities with the term “Improving the Academia/Science-Industry Interface” or “Improving the Science-Society Interface”. As we at least are talking about two different stakeholders and an interface between them, it is interesting to understand the diverse dimensions of this task. Think about an optimized flow of knowledge from a knowledge creator to a knowledge recipient that should lead to Innovation.

Absorptive Capacity

Photo by George Hodan under Public Domain License (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=30522&picture=domino&large=1)

Photo by George Hodan under Public Domain License (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=30522&picture=domino&large=1)

One dimension is the absorptive capacity of e.g. a company receiving knowledge form an university within a regional knowledge transfer. According to wikipedia absorptive capacity has been defined as “a firm’s ability to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends“. In principle the responsibility and active part for improvement in this case is on the side of the company. In the context of the science-industry interface this could mean, that science is producing valuable new knowledge, and the better the absorptive capacity of the company gets, the commercial success of the company is increasing.  A provoking question in this context is:  “does this work for all kind of knowledge that is generated at the academic side of the Interface?“. In fact this question is very difficult to answer. On the long run several examples can be found how basic research results have become very relevant for commercialization within a period of several years or even decades. We personally don’t think that even the highest absorptive capacity will help to turn every scientific result into an economic success. There is no invariance of the “kind and quality” of a result to become an innovation. But, at least companies need the capability to understand the implication of new research results for their own innovation processes.

Desorptive Capacity

Photo by Daniele Pellati under Public Domain License (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=47378&picture=e-mc2&large=1)

Photo by Daniele Pellati under Public Domain License (http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=47378&picture=e-mc2&large=1)

Let’s think about the second dimension, with the responsibility and active part in improving the interface is on the side of academia. It has to be something opposite to the “absorptive capacity” maybe a “desorptive capacity”. And indeed in 2006, Lichtenthaler was defining the term desorptive capacity “which refers to a firm’s ability to identify technology transfer opportunities and to transfer technology to the recipient“. In our example the “firm” will be the university and its capability to produce results according to recognized acquirer needs and to hand over the results to them. This definition has two aspects. First

  • the capacity to understand technology transfer opportunities, including e.g.
    • the identification of suitable own research results,
    • adaptation of the own research to external opportunities,
    • an approach to analyze recipient needs etc.

and

  • the capability to handover results to the recipient including e.g.
    • form and quality of the released technology,
    • contractual issues with suitable agreements,
    • networks of potential recipients, investors, etc.

One may argue, that a higher desorptive capacity is increasingly violating the humboldtian model of the freedom of research.  This problem can arise when e.g. a research organization has no defined strategy on how much adaptation of the own research to external opportunities is needed for the operation of the organization. And in addition: to perform a better analysis of own research results for transfer, or to support the recipient to absorb the results more easily is not per se in conflict with the nature of the university! Instruments, like e.g. the ISO/IEC 15504 standard based model innoSPICE, can help to support research organizations to increase their “desorptive” capacity.

Conclusion

Collaboration between Academia and Industry shoulkd lead to Innovation

Photo by McLac2000 under Public Domain License (https://pixabay.com/de/puzzel-zusammenarbeit-partnerschaft-1020221/)

The motivation to write this article is based on the observation, that absorptive capacity currently has become a buzzword. We think that this term is a very convenient one for academia, as changes are not requested from them in a first step. For sure there is a need to improve absorption of new knowledge on the side of the companies or society. But in our opinion it is a mistake to understand absorptive capacity decoupled from desorptive capacity. There should be a common interest from academia, industry and even society to improve both capacities in a good Balance.