Drs. Guus Mulder
- Foreward looking activities
- innovation diffusion
- living lab
- industrial areas
TNO has investigated innovation processes in building and construction on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, identifying various elements of innovation processes on the basis of a Central Bureau of Statistics innovation questionnaire. A distinction was made between investments in knowledge, the way in which innovation was implemented and the results of innovation.
The study reveals that the building and construction trade has little innovation compared with other sectors. Of the total number of employees, 35 per cent works in technologically innovative companies, and for the total company activities this share is around half. For non-technological innovation the building and construction trade is below average. Innovation in this sector tends to focus on finding solutions to ad-hoc problems that occur at the building site.
The main cause of lack of innovation is the market structure of the building and construction trade. Companies see no need to begin innovation programmes; the market structure is not conducive to innovation. Firstly builders work together in ever changing projects and often in such one-off coalitions there is an absence of trust to exchange knowledge. Secondly, tender procedures are not geared to innovation. The building and construction trade is mainly a capacity supplier. In other words, it works according to predetermined detailed conditions in implementing the building process. Engineers and architects are least held back by market conditions in starting up innovation.
Hydraulic and civil engineering is considered the most innovative. Dutch building companies have strong traditional links to complex hydraulic and civil engineering issues like the Deltaworks or buildings on soft soils. Residential and commercial building is less innovative. An alternative structure based on building chains can be considered innovative especially for the property sector as direct customer of the building and construction trade. Innovative companies register stronger growth in employment than companies that do not innovate, which is no different from other sectors. For both the building and construction trade and other sectors there is substantial similarity in tersm of what determine the result of innovation processes. R&D personnel, use of information, protection of innovations and non-technological innovations all have a positive impact on the results of innovation processes all round.