How knowledge diffusion in University-Industry Collaboration can foster ICT innovations in Sri Lanka



Chaminda Wijesinghe, SU, DSV/NSBM


Christina Keller, Lunds universitet


Henrik Hansson, SU, DSV


Love Ekenberg, SU, DSV

Enosha Hettiarachi, NSBM, Sri Lanka



Chaminda Wijesinghe

Collaboration between universities and industry has long been regarded as critical for innovation through knowledge diffusion. Nonetheless, despite its long history, several barriers to such collaboration persist in Sri Lanka, a developing Asian country, and the ways to overcome them are unclear. Understanding how knowledge is technically generated and how its dissemination path could be defined is vital for the country’s development. This study is conducted to answer the research question: How can knowledge diffusion in university-industry collaboration foster ICT Innovations in Sri Lanka?

The primary study consists of four interrelated studies. The first study is an exploratory case study to understand the current situation in Sri Lanka concerning the UIC and ICT innovations. The second study focused on exploring the best UIC practices in other countries. Thus a systematic literature review was used to determine what attributes are more critical in UIC to foster ICT innovations. In the third study, success criteria for ICT innovation were examined in Sweden, a country known for its innovations. Sweden's government innovation agency, universities, and startup firms were chosen and interviewed with open-ended questions to study the best practices for innovations. After identifying potential attributes for UIC and ICT innovations, the fourth study examined the users’ behavioural intention to use an IT intermediary system for knowledge diffusion in Sri Lanka. This study used a survey questionnaire to collect data from undergraduates, academic staff, and industry respondents.

According to the first research findings, university-industry collaborations in Sri Lanka are currently conducted primarily on personal relationships, are short-term, and are mostly ad hoc. Industry and academia expressed interest in formalising the UI cooperation structure since it is a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Both parties believe that systematic collaboration will reduce current impediments to collaboration. An IT intermediary system can be used to mitigate the geographical proximity dimension issues and the problem of efficient collaboration and communication. The second research findings propose five key characteristics for increasing UIC for ICT innovations in Sri Lanka. These characteristics are management directives, financial support, proximity dimension, policy implications, and heterogeneity in collaboration. According to the findings of the third study, education and mindset, risk-taking environment, embracing failures, digitalization, and collaboration are essential predictors of ICT innovations in Sweden that can be applied in Sri Lanka. According to the fourth study, the system's usefulness and behavioural intention to use will be determined by how easy it is to use the system. Perceived usefulness and ease of use are well predicted by the relative advantage—the system's ease of use impacts behavioural intention to use the idea bank system. The system's trialability also enhances its ease of use. These findings imply that improving the system's ease of use enhances its usefulness, and therefore the behavioural intention to use the system can be enhanced.

In order to foster ICT innovations in the country, providing knowledge inputs to the innovation process, providing R&D results, and, thus, creating new knowledge is an important support function for university students. Further, universities in Sri Lanka need to develop an innovative mindset among undergraduates. Government policies will be necessary to support innovation activities in universities. IT intermediary system can be utilised as the channel for knowledge diffusion. Since this intermediary is expected to be used mainly among undergraduates in universities, ease of using the system is a crucial determinant to use the system. For future studies, it is recommended to use more system attributes, including hedonic features, to investigate user acceptance as young undergraduates mainly use the system.


Keywords: University-industry collaboration, ICT Innovation, Knowledge Diffusion, Technology Acceptance.