PhD Defence Lluis Romul Sala Vilar: "From Mediation to Transformation: The role of innovation intermediaries in the AI and digital era"

Lluís Ròmul Sala Vilar will defend his PhD project "From Mediation to Transformation: The role of innovation intermediaries in the AI and digital era".


The adoption of novel digital technologies within industries extends beyond enhancing technological capabilities; it necessitates a fundamental reevaluation of how firms operate, innovate, and generate value. At the forefront of this transformative shift are innovation intermediaries, organizations dedicated to fostering innovation and growth among firms. These intermediaries play a critical role in expediting technological transitions and broadening the adoption of digital capabilities, making them crucial for navigating the digital adoption journey.

However, there is a pressing need for practitioners to understand how these intermediary organizations can effectively lead such transitions. This challenge extends beyond merely adapting internal capabilities, organizational structures, or business models. It also involves external adaptations, such as responding to evolving customer needs, forging strategic partnerships to harness digital resources, and enhancing service portfolios with digital technologies. Despite the acknowledged need for understanding the role of intermediaries in this context, research exploring how they facilitate digital transformation remains limited.

This thesis aims to shed light on the evolving roles of intermediaries amidst digital transformation, providing theoretical insights and conceptual frameworks that delineate the path for digital adoption within innovation systems across organizational, strategic, and systemic levels. Practically, it arms practitioners with knowledge and strategies for effectively navigating this transition, creating an ecosystem where advanced digital technologies can drive innovation.

Central to this thesis are three pivotal articles elucidating the role and mechanisms of intermediaries in fostering digital adoption.

  • Article A analyzes current trends in digital service offerings among intermediaries within regional innovation systems (systemic level).
  • Article B delves into the evolution of intermediaries' business models to include digital services (strategic level).
  • Article C examines the intermediaries' challenge of balancing human-centric innovation with the adoption of AI-driven strategies (organizational level).

This research significantly advances our understanding of the complex relationship between innovation intermediaries and digital technologies and their collective impact on the capability of innovation systems to embrace new digital tools. Offering a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities digital transformation presents, this thesis contributes to driving innovation and growth within and across innovation systems.

Keywords: Innovation Intermediaries; Digital Transformation; Exploitation-Exploration Paradox. 


Professor Jason Li-Ying, DTU Entrepreneurship, Denmark


Professor Thomas Bolander, DTU Compute, Denmark

Assessment committee:

Associate Professor Lars Alkærsig, DTU Entrepreneurship, Denmark
Professor Ana Colovic, NEOMA Business School, France
Associate Professor Leitizia Mortara, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Chairperson at defence:

Thomas J Howard, DTU Entrepreneurship, Denmark

A copy of the PhD thesis is available for reading at DTU Entrepreneurship,371, 2nd floor, room 224, Diplomvej, DK-2800 Kgs Lyngby. 


Fri 28 Jun 24
13:00 - 16:00



DTU, Technical University of Denmark
Building 371, room 217
DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby