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Research grants

Find out more about our main research projects

The KIN Center for Digital Innovation is working on different large funded research projects. We often do this in collaboration with our business partners.

Find out more about our main research projects below.

Main Research Projects

  • ECOdig: How does the digital data-layer of digital-physical products and services shape collaboration and competition in industry-spanning ecosystems? (MSCA-funded) (2023-2025)

    To reduce resource consumption and increase operations’ reliability, organizations deploy digital technologies to monitor, control, optimize, and automate existing physical operations (e.g. sensors in factories for efficient production, maintenance, and IoT services). This process often requires an implementation of digital-physical products and services, where the digital-layer acts as a ‘portal’ to connect organizations across industries (hardware/engineering, software/IT).

    It is unknown how digital data enable these connections and how this shapes competitive dynamics for organizations with different origins, sizes, and structures. Dr. Katharina Cepa, a researcher from the KIN Center for Digital Innovations, received a grant to explain how digital data allow organizations to devise digital-physical offerings that straddle multiple industries and what the consequences of this are.

    Based on interviews, observations, and archival materials in two digitalizing ecosystems that tackle this twin digital/green transition, this research answers the question: how does the digital data layer of digital-physical offerings allow organizations to enter and traverse industries, and what are the organizational and strategic implications?  

    This project is funded by the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. The programme aims to enhance the creative and innovative potential of researchers holding a Ph.D., who wish to acquire new skills through advanced training, international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral mobility.

  • OPEN-QUAL: Innovating Methods for Open Science in Qualitative Management Research (NWO-funded)

    Prof. Dr. Ir. Hans Berends, head of the KIN Center of Digital Innovations, was awarded a grant for the OPEN-QUAL project. Together with his team  members, Dr. Ir. Fleur Deken, Dr. Philipp Tuertscher, Dr. Katharina Cepa, Dr. Lukas Falcke and Ph.D. candidate Eric Haynes, he hopes to gain new insights into the reuse of existing qualitative data from other researchers and thereby realizing open science principles in qualitative research— where this has been very difficult until now.

    Qualitative data are particularly versatile and therefore uniquely suited for reuse, however, privacy restrictions and barriers to anomyzation prevented researchers from doing so. Limited reuse wastes the valuable resources invested in the research and stymies valuable opportunities for knowledge creation and accumulation. 

    The approach developed in OPEN-QUAL focuses on the decentralized reuse of data, without sharing raw data. Original researchers maintain sovereignty over their data, yet reuse them for new research questions, guided by a shared analytical protocol. OPEN-QUAL will yield fundamental new insight into collaborative knowledge production to enable knowledge accumulation in the field of management research.

    The work on the OPEN-QUAL project includes developing a platform that facilitates the discovery of relevant datasets and ensures that insights are disseminated beyond the duration of this project. This will spur qualitative researchers to reuse their data to enable progress on the open science agenda in the field of qualitative management research. 

  • Fieldlabs@Scale: Towards effective collaborative experimentation for mission-driven innovation (NWO funded)

    KIN researchers, including  Prof. Dr. Ir. Hans Berends, Dr. Ir. Fleur Deken and Ph.D. candidate Hanna Fults, are collaborating with other researchers and stakeholders on an NWO KIC project to develop knowledge on scaling and accelerating innovation through fieldlabs.

    Fieldlabs are emerging as a promising approach to mission-driven innovation. They bring together regional stakeholders — including business and knowledge institutes — to collaboratively experiment with solutions for societal challenges. Their effectiveness remains mixed as they face problems in scaling such innovative solutions in business ecosystems. Involving a broad, interdisciplinary consortium, Fieldlabs@Scale studies fieldlabs in agriculture, healthcare, infrastructure, and smart industry.

    The project develops new theories on mechanisms for collaborative experimentation and aims to co-create a toolkit, as well as Fieldlab Academy, alongside policymakers, regional network organizations, and fieldlab participants.

    The research offers insights into the intermediate steps needed to move from innovation to societal impact and earning power and facilitates support for fieldlabs in accelerating mission-driven innovation and generating economic and societal value.

  • Robots at work: Bridging the gap between the robotic development and workplace use (Vidi grant, NWO funded)

    Professional service robots aim to serve as partners in teams and are employed in unstructured work environments. Rigorous academic knowledge is thus needed to understand how robots are used in practice and with what consequence for work. Such knowledge can generate a productive dialogue between engineering science and organization science, creating synergy between traditionally disconnected fields and ensuring that robots support rather than undermine people's work lives.

    Dr. Anastasia Sergeeva works on a Vidi grant by NWO to explain how work is changing when robots are entering work settings to serve as partners of humans. Together with her team, Ph.D. candidate Melissa Sexton and Ph.D. candidate Mila Arakelian, Dr. Anastasia Sergeeva will conduct several ethnographic studies of professional service robots at work to develop novel methods and approaches to recognize the embeddedness of the robot into work teams, as well as richness, unruliness, and institutional nature of work domains.

    The project aims to develop actionable principles for the design and development of robots, as well as guidelines for managers that are planning to introduce robots to a workspace. 

  • Knowledge Work in the Age of AI: Open Competition project (NWO funded)

    Prof. Dr. Marleen Huysman was awarded a prestigious national grant from the NWO’s Open Competition. The research follows AI from development in the lab to its use on the work floor, to develop a collaborative methodology for augmenting knowledge work.

    Currently, AI applications that are intended for use in knowledge work can be developed without input from experts in that domain (e.g. HR or healthcare). This is very different from early forms of AI, also known as expert systems, which depended on experts willingly helping them to become ‘smart’. Now that AI instead relies on large training data sets, the domain expert is often cut out altogether.  The (unintended) consequences of leaving experts out of the loop of AI development are unknown. Besides Dr. Marleen Huysman, the research team consists of KIN Researchers Dr. Ella Hafermalz and Dr. Anastasia Sergeeva.

    Together with 2 new PhDs and a Postdoc, they will work together to study AI development as well as its use in organizational contexts close up, over four years. The team will ultimately create a “Collaborative Methodology”, designed in close collaboration with practitioners who are involved in AI development and AI use. The Collaborative Methodology will facilitate interaction between experts before AI applications hit the ground in organizations.

  • Cross-over Collaboration for Digital Innovation (NWO funded) (2015-2020)

    It is widely recognized that to develop solutions for Grand Challenges, such as the aging population, heterogeneous parties need to collaborate. KIN Research and the Management & Organization Group from Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology worked together to research crossover collaborations for digital innovation. This project investigated such crossover collaborations for the development of health & wellbeing solutions.

    A team of senior researchers, including Prof. Dr. Marleen Huysman (main applicant, KIN research), Prof. Dr. Dirk Snelders (co-applicant, Delft University of Technology), and Dr. Ir. Hans Berends(KIN Research, co-applicant), as well as two PhD students and a post-doc, were investigating the collaboration practices of heterogeneous actors developing digital innovations. The first project, conducted by Natalja Laurey, investigated how heterogeneous parties can become connected in digital innovation ecosystems. The second project, led by Dr. Marina Bos-de Vos, delved into the role of creative professionals in crossover collaborations. The third project, led by Dennis van Kampen, aimed to identify how to coordinate such collaborations within successful business models.

    Other senior researchers involved were Dr. Ir. Maaike Kleinsmann (Delft University of Technology),  Dr. Maura Soekijad (KIN Center for Digital Innovation), Dr. Ir. Fleur Deken (KIN Center for Digital Innovation), Prof. Dr. Gerda Gemser (RMIT University), Prof. Dr. Patrick Cohendet (Mosaic, HEC Montréal), and Dr. Frans Feldberg  (KIN Center for Digital Innovation).

    With the diverse backgrounds of team members in anthropology, design, and innovation management, they shed light on how to successfully organize crossover collaborations.

    The following consortium partners took part in the research and valorization activities:

  • New Ways of Working and Human Capital Development (NWO funded) (2014-2019)

    With the radical shift from an industrial to a knowledge society, knowledge workers became more significant and more autonomous. Developments in technology and society had given rise to more openness in the processes and practices of these knowledge workers. Coordinating, learning, and innovating were less constrained by organizational, geographical, and cognitive boundaries. The challenge that organizations were increasingly facing was how to combine this openness with integration across individual knowledge workers, units, and areas of expertise, and how to counter inherent threats of fragmentation.

    These and related challenges were studied by Dr. Marleen Huysman, together with some of her colleagues from the KIN Center for Digital Innovation (Dr. Marlous Agterberg, Dr. Ir. Hans Berendss, Dr. Bart van den Hooff, Dr. Philipp Tuertscher, and Maarten de Laat of the Open University of the Netherlands).

    The premise of this project was that the development and utilization of employees’ human capital would require coordinating, learning, and innovating to be mutually reinforcing. PhD researchers Jochem Hummel (who defended his thesis on 5 Jun 2019) and Julia Schlegelmilch and Dr. Anastasia Sergeevaa (who worked as post-docs on the project, now assistant professors at the KIN Center for Digital Innovaiton) studied how to manage human capital development across boundaries, now that new technologies increasingly broke physical, organizational, cognitive, and epistemological boundaries. They all employed in-depth case studies of organizations that were in the process of such organizational changes, or that had already made successful changes and offered alternative ‘best open practices’ from which other organizations could learn.

    The researchers worked closely with a consortium of private and public partners: the Dutch tax authorities, CERN, Kentalis, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Sparked, and VUMC.

  • IT transformation and organizational change at IND

    The KIN Center for Digital Innovation and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) have embarked on a dynamic partnership facilitated by the I-Partnerschap, a Dutch government entity dedicated to fostering collaboration between government agencies and higher education institutions on digitization-related themes.

    This particular collaboration is centred around a groundbreaking project focusing on the renewal of the IT and process landscape of the IND. The IND maintains a commitment to preserving a harmonious balance between foundational structures and innovation, which involves ensuring consistent alignment between business and IT during the transition process. The project, under the supervision of Bart van den Hooff, promises to advance our knowledge of the challenges encountered in such renewal initiatives, and how to address them.

    The partnership between KIN, IND and I-Partnerschap creates a unique synergy between research and organisations in practice and facilitates knowledge transfer from academia to industry. The project , promises to advance our knowledge of the challenges encountered in such renewal projects, and how to deal with these.