Innovation brokers / Courtiers en innovation

David Phipps, RIR-York
David Phipps (RIR-York) published another knowledge mobilization journal club article last week. The journal club discusses work on “innovation brokers”. Are you a knowledge broker or an innovation broker?
David Phipps (RIR-York) a publié un autre article dans le cadre du club de lecture sur la mobilisation des connaissances.  La discussion porte sur les « courtiers en innovation ». Êtes-vous un courtier de connaissances ou bien un courtier en innovation ?
We wrote a number of blogs on the K* conference a few weeks ago. At that conference I met Laurens Klerkx, a scholar from Wageningen University, The Netherlands who writes on innovation and innovation brokers in particular. I had just finished my presentation as part of the K* to civil society panel in which I showed our video of our collaboration with Nottawasaga Futures resulting in the Green Economy Centre. You can read about that collaboration and view the video here. In the video Valerie Ryan speaks about our role as helping connect them to York University research and expertise, to funding “right down to editing my proposals, we simply couldn’t have done this without them, we simply couldn’t”. Thanks Val!
In the Q&A after the panel presentations Laurens pointed out that we had done more than broker knowledge saying we had played the role of an innovation broker. Innovation broker was a new term for me. I asked for more information and Laurens sent me a couple of his papers that I discuss on the KMb Journal club.
Innovation broker? Is this truly a different term easily differentiated from the more narrowly construed knowledge broker or are we really using different words to describe the same function? If you are a knowledge broker placed within a discipline specific project or unit then you are likely brokering knowledge; however, that knowledge and that brokering function nonetheless sits within a broader system of knowledge creation to implementation.  If you are an institutional knowledge broker like those in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche universities you are brokering relationships within a broader system. We all care about what happens to our “knowledge” post brokering and strive to evaluate the impact of our brokerage by tracking forward to implementation and impact. As such we are tracking forward through a broader innovation system.
So are we all innovation brokers? Is this a new term (to me, clearly not to the literature as Laurens has been writing about this since 2008) to describe our work or is it describing something that we are not doing? And if the latter should we broaden the scope of our work?
Interesting beer talk. While we should avoid jumping on the terminology band wagon we should think about our roles and consider how this new terminology can help us become better brokers of either knowledge and/or innovation.