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Entrepreneurial universities and the dynamics of knowledge production: a case study of basic vs. applied research in Belgium

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This paper explores issues related to the impact of Science-Industry relationships on the knowledge production of academic research groups, in particular on the alleged shift to the more applied research end under the influence of business partners' needs. Our findings from a case study of the Belgian Katholieke Universiteit Leuven ((K.U. Leuven) show a significant steady growth over time of publications produced by academic research groups involved in University-Industry linkages, closely related to factors both internal and external to the university that have stimulated academic entrepreneurial behaviour. On an aggregated level for 1985-2000, basic research publications appear to be more present than applied ones, both in total numbers and in growth rates. Our findings show that applied and basic research publications generally rose together in the same year. No clear and generalised evidence of a shift towards the applied research end determined by the involvement in U-I linkages was found, the weak indications of such a shift within groups coming only for groups that have already high applied versus basic orientation. These results suggest that the academic research groups examined have developed a record of applied publications without affecting their basic research publications and, rather than differentiating between applied and basic research publications, it is the combination of basic and applied publications that consolidate the group's R&D potential. Accordingly, critical assessments of the University side of the emerging 'Triple Helix' need to take into account the dynamic nature of the research dimension.

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