Innovation systems are increasingly oriented towards the solution of societal and environmental problems. Social entrepreneurship can be regarded as a market-based actor, inherently aimed at finding solutions for these problems. The development of technologically advanced social entrepreneurship represents an outcome of problem-oriented innovation systems, requiring a closer link between social and technological innovation. Nonetheless, the literature has not yet explored a key element of these innovation systems: the technology transfer processes, which may enable social entrepreneurial organizations to act as innovation actors leveraging on technology. This paper investigates the relationship between the technology transfer processes targeting social entrepreneurship and different models of problem-oriented innovation ecosystems. The paper relies on a multiple-case-study design, including two problem-oriented innovation ecosystems in the Italian context, namely, MIND and Torino Social Impact, which are technology transfer projects designed to target social entrepreneurship. Drawing from content analysis of interviews, documents and direct observations, the results stress that the different objectives and contents of technology transfer, coupled with different perceptions of the idiosyncratic features of social entrepreneurship compared to commercial entrepreneurship, fit different ecosystem models in terms of the participating actors, governance and primary orientation to social or economic value generation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited