How to improve the process of forming biobased R&D collaborations

Brenda T.P.M. Israël-Hoevelaken, Emiel F.M. Wubben, Harriëtte L. Bos*, René H. Wijffels, Onno S.W.F. Omta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The transition towards a biobased economy requires innovations. In addition to the usual challenges of innovation trajectories, the characteristics of biobased innovations cause extra difficulties. To lower the failure rate of innovation trajectories in general, companies tend to form R&D collaborations. Choices made during the formation of such R&D collaborations play a key role in the project's success. Here, one may benefit from the social sciences. This paper presents a perspective on what the social sciences may bring to analyze and improve the formation process of biobased R&D collaborations. The paper also provides an overview of relevant innovation and transition models, and lists the dominant variables in such formation processes (biobased characteristics and general determinants), and the guidelines that seem useful. Although each model has its advantages, none of the innovation and transition models studied addresses both the phases of a formation process of a biobased R&D collaboration and the variables involved in each phase. Concerning the formation process of biobased R&D collaborations, the literature addresses social, organizational, technological, economic, and environmental variables. The key determinants of multi-partner R&D collaborations are partner properties, motives to join a consortium, appropriability of a firm, and project properties. The descriptions of their influence on an R&D collaboration presented here can be used as guidelines, as recommendations, in processes for the formation of relatively less complex R&D collaborations. The influence of biobased characteristics – such as type of innovation (drop-ins versus novel materials), biorefinery, biomass supply and technological challenges – on R&D collaboration have not been studied systematically as yet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-923
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number5
Early online date20 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • biobased
  • innovation
  • models
  • multi-partner
  • R&D collaboration

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