, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 105–124 | Cite as

How Technological Platforms Reconfigure Science-Industry Relations: The Case of Micro- and Nanotechnology

  • Martina MerzEmail author
  • Peter Biniok


With reference to the recent science studies debate on the nature of science-industry relationship, this article focuses on a novel organizational form: the technological platform. Considering the field of micro- and nanotechnology in Switzerland, it investigates how technological platforms participate in framing science-industry activities. On the basis of a comparative analysis of three technological platforms, it shows that the platforms relate distinctly to academic and to industrial users. It distinguishes three pairs of user models, one model in each pair pertaining to how platforms act toward and conceive of academic users, the other model regarding users from industry. The article then discusses how technological platforms reconfigure the science-economy divide. While the observed platforms provide new institutional contact and interaction between academia and industry, new research collaboration does not necessarily materialize in practice. In this respect, science-industry mediation by way of technological platforms does not make science-industry boundaries more porous. Instead, the declared openness of public research with respect to industry, in the case of technological platforms, may contribute to maintain public science’s autonomy.


Technological platforms Science-industry relations Micro- and nanotechnology User models 



This article is based on research conducted within the project “Epistemic Practice, Social Organization, and Scientific Culture: Configurations of Nanoscale Research in Switzerland,” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). For constructive criticism we thank Jörg Potthast, Liliana Doganova, Dominique Vinck, Jochen Gläser, two anonymous reviewers and the participants of the European Workshop “Doing Science-Industry” organized by the PROKNOW consortium at Sofia (September 2008). We are grateful to the observed and interviewed scientists for sharing their time and experience with us.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of SociologyUniversity of LucerneLucerne 7Switzerland

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