New, transversal technologies – such as advanced materials, biotechnology, ICTs, robotics - have the potential to drive changes in established industries, contributing to their revitalization and transformation. However, the technological, organizational and cultural distance between them may preclude the emergence of opportunities for transformative interactions. This paper analyses the role played by research and innovation projects in providing conditions for a fruitful interaction between previously unrelated activities. Processes of corporate diversification may result from the exploitation of the opportunities opened by the collaborations established. The paper addresses the case of projects in the field of “blue economy”, which aims at combining socio-economic development and sustainability in the conduction of human activities related with the ocean. Transformative activities in this field are especially important, given the weight of ocean-related traditional sectors in the economic activity of several European countries, and the need to revitalize their activities, particularly in the context of a post-pandemic recovery. Using social network analysis methods, the paper maps the interactions between new and established Portuguese industries, in order to investigate whether and to extent they are leading to the development of innovative and sustainable solutions that can contribute to the reconfiguration of existing activities, or the creation of new ones. Then it focuses on the companies involved in the networks thus formed, in order to uncover the characteristics of the firms engaged in these processes and to understand roles played. Finally, starting from the identification of a group of established industries with a strong weight in the Portuguese economic structure, the paper looks for evidence of revitalization and transformation processes being induced by collaboration with firms from new industries (e.g. fisheries/ biotechnology or robotics; shipbuilding/ marine energies; marine transportation/ materials or instrumentation). Implications for transformative innovation policies are derived.
Keywords: Industrial transformation; Diversification; Blue Economy; Inter-industrial relationship; Social network analysis.
Sousa, C., Fontes, M. and Conceição, O. (2021). Opportunities for economic revitalization through inter-industrial relationships: the case of blue economy,
Proceedings of the ECIE 2021- 16th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Reading (UK): Academic Conferences International Limited, pp. 945-954.