Prof. Vareska van de Vrande
Prof. Vareska van de Vrande

Which factors determine whether innovation and corporate venturing activities survive a crisis such as Covid-19? Prof. Vareska van de Vrande from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) has been awarded a ZonMW grant as part of a subsidy by the Dutch Ministery of Health, Welfare and Sport and national research organisation NWO: ‘Covid-19 Science for Society’. These grants are awarded to short-term research that helps answer questions and addresses practical problems organisations face in dealing with the corona crisis. Her research aims to determine the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the innovation and corporate venturing activities of organisations.

Corporate venturing

A crisis like the Covid-19 outbreak poses an immediate danger when it comes to the innovation activities of companies, because these activities depend on available resources that aren’t needed for anything else (slack resources). In particular, innovation activities related to breakthrough developments that involve high risks and where the expected results lie further in the future (corporate venturing) can suddenly be stopped. Previous research has frequently shown that corporate venturing plays an important role in the long-term survival of organisations. But, precisely these activities are the most vulnerable in times of crisis, because decision-makers do not always properly assess the value of these activities. On the other hand, previous research has also shown the value of anti-cyclical investing: companies that invest in exploratory activities during economically difficult times often emerge better from the crisis.

Intended results

The intended results, to be expected in January 2021, are threefold:

  1. Identifying the best practices, to give companies guidelines for innovation management in times of crisis and to help them better protect their innovation activities in the future.
  2. Translating some of these best practices into a teaching case, with which students and experienced professionals can gain more insight into the various approaches and the results involved.
  3. Developing an ‘innovation resilience’ scan, with which companies can recognise the vulnerability of their innovation activities and adjust them in a timely manner.

The research will be conducted in close collaboration with Corina Kuiper, managing director of the Corporate Venturing Network.

About Vareska van de Vrande

Vareska van de Vrande is professor of collaborative innovation and business venturing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). She joined RSM in 2007 after completing a PhD in industrial engineering and management science at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Van de Vrande’s expertise focuses on the areas of corporate venturing and collaborative innovation, including external technology sourcing, corporate venture capital investments, strategic alliances, and corporate-startup collaboration. Other research interests include (corporate) entrepreneurship, patents, and venture capital.

She has published articles in leading academic journals, including the Strategic Management Journal, Research Policy, the Journal of Operations Management, the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, the Journal of Product Innovation Management, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, and the Journal of Business Venturing. At RSM, Vareska teaches courses and modules in strategic management and corporate venturing at graduate and post-experience level.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

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