Living and Working in the »Hothouses of Innovation«

A Person-centred Approach to Studying Hybrid Research Spaces at the Intersections of Academia and Business in the Vienna Life Science Region

ÖAW/APART Fellowship - 10/2011-09/2015


Recent policy discourse refers to scientific and technological innovation as the key force driving the future economic and social development of the European Union, its nation states and regions. Regional clusters, with their particular networks, policy structures, intellectual traditions and a specific genius loci are seen to be indispensable in fostering the knowledge perceived as crucial to secure economic and societal development – they are seen as the “hothouses of innovation”.

Hybrid Research Spaces

In current debates about innovation, hybrid research spaces between academia and business, i.e. startups and small and medium-sized enterprises in cooperation with academic partners are conceptualised as particular sources of entrepreneurial creativity and receive specific attention.

These new contexts of knowledge production open up a range of questions. How are they different from other contexts in which knowledge is produced? In which way are they particularly supportive of (or inhibiting) certain forms of creativity? And what role does a specific regional context and its genius loci play in this?

Main Project Aims

Fostering “bright minds”, hence attracting talented people to work in the production of innovative knowledge, is at the core of most policy agendas. However, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the perspectives of those working in these new hybrid research spaces.

I hence employ a person-centred approach to explore how researchers live and work in hybrid research spaces at the intersections of academia and business in the life sciences in the Vienna region, and how this specific regional context matters in how knowledge is produced.


The project will employ a case-study approach. It will focus on three small or medium sized companies characterised by dense interaction with academia. An innovative and tailor made variant of the narrative biographical interview will be the main method.


For a more detailed and visual presentation, please download  the project poster.


Dr. Maximilian Fochler
Telefon: +43-1-4277-49613