Research Excelence Data. Information. Knowledge. Innovation. Value

The Spinner Innovation Centre was designed in honor of the pioneer professor and researcher in the Knowledge-Intensive Business Services Industry, Ian Miles.

Prof dr Ian Douglas MILES | Emeritus Professor Manchester Institute of Innovation Research | Alliance Manchester Business School

  • Read Ian Miles Testimonial

    I’m just going to write a short note about how I came to be working on service innovation and on KIBS. To give due recognition to all the people whom I’ve worked with and learned from would require a very long note! My development has been very much shaped by a large number of brilliant colleagues (Chris Freeman, Jay Gershuny, John Irvine, and more…) and working environments (SPRU, Sussex; PREST/CRIC/MIoIR, Manchester; Issek/HSE, Moscow).

    Service Innovation emerged without being named as such in the early 1980s, when Jay Gershuny prompted me to shift from critique of “post-industrial society” constructs to empirical analysis of service economy development, and it was already possible to see the beginnings of transformations associated with the application of new Information Technologies (IT).

    By the late 1980s, especially in work with Graham Thomas, we were beginning to tie this together with the insights that came from what came to be known as innovation studies, where SPRU featured many of the world’s leading and pioneering researchers (and most of the others passed through!). We looked particularly at the new services arising around new IT, and this led me to get very involved in studies of “information society” over the following years.

    On the invitation of Sam Cole (who was a great influence on my early activities in futures studies, along with Marie Jahoda and others, and was putting together an issue of Futures on the future of industry), I returned to focusing on services in 1993. This essay included an effort to provide an overview of service innovation, which (unknown to me) was beginning to attract attention from other quarters, especially French and Dutch scholars. I then wrote a review of service innovation in a Handbook of Innovation edited by Dodgson and Rothwell in 1994.

    There had been a smattering of other studies with this issue at the core (I recall, but cannot now trace, a mimeographed study of innovation in local government services in the US, from the 1980s), but only in 1997 did Gallouj and Weinstein hit the spot with their Research Policy paper. It was clear that service industries and activities were a vital part of innovation, and not just around new IT. Round the end of the century, we put together a fantastic group of European researchers in the SI4S project (Services in Innovation, Innovation in Services). Already there were small numbers of people with this focus in many countries – despite Chesbrough’s claims that social research had ignored service innovation! – but this project helped consolidate the topic, which then became embedded in the broader fields of service and innovation studies.

    In the 1993 essay I made a throwaway reference to knowledge-intensive business services, which we now know as KIBS. This idea must have been “in the air”, since I saw no need to explain it; and in 1994 Simone Strambach actually used the term in the title of an article in Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie (again without unpicking the meaning of the term – though in later work she has made significant contributions here). But someone in the European Commission was also thinking on these lines, and specifically requested a study on the nature of KIBS.

    This led to the 1999 EIMS report – never published as a hard copy! – “Knowledge-Intensive Business Services: Users, Carriers and Sources of Innovation” which drew on work carried out with several colleagues, including Pim den Hertog at TNO (someone else who has published important work in the field). So who first used the term KIBS? I have been unable to find earlier references by web searching (there are several false leads); several people were talking about “knowledge-intensive” jobs and firms, however.

    Google Scholar tells me that the EIMS report is the most-cited of my studies, followed by the book with Gershuny – which is one of several reasons for my being critical of the emphasis on “top quality journal publications” as the main source of original knowledge. (The third and fourth biggest “hits” currently are also book chapters, and the fifth is in a “low-ranked” journal.) I have no doubt that getting published in a “top” journal is a good way to get higher citations – and a good way to advance an academic career these days – but it is not necessarily the way to be able to develop original ideas (which may have longer-term impact).

    But that would be the topic of a whole essay in its own right. Moreover, my own trajectory is very much a product of its time, and there are forces in academic life which mean that I may not be a good example for young scholars these days. Nor will everyone want to do as I did – always try to be engaged in several projects and to work across several fields of study – great for cross-fertilising ideas, demanding on time and effort! (Often not enough time to follow up on, or publicise, results of studies!) The one piece of good advice that I can offer, though, is: find and work with communities of open-minded researchers, who are happy to share, and respond to, ideas, data, and opportunities to collaborate.


Recognized Team International Academic Scientists

The Spinner Research Centre recognized the international team from different universities, research centers, and business schools for their strong contribution to innovation around the world. It's an interdisciplinary team with complementary approaches to combine research to companies, including business families in different economic sectors.

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Our Mission

Transform data into value for business.

Our Vision

Be an independent and recognized unit in Portugal (R&D+ I) (2023).

Our Purpose

Predicting innovation in the world.

Innovative Approach to Business Growth

Spinner Research Centre promotes innovation sharing the Spinner Innovation Model and Knowledge Flow. We believe that innovation is more than theory and conception. We believe that innovation must have economic and social impact, in the regions, in the countries and in the world.  Our model is innovative because it shows the opportunity to use differential statistical techniques and combine them with innovative models like Triple Helix and Open Innovation. Spinner Innovation Model is a free, open model for universities, professors, researchers, and PhD students.

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