“The invisible webs of connections that we all have bear a strong influence on the ideas we develop and promote.”
I joined Imperial over twelve years ago, straight after finishing my PhD in the Netherlands, where I grew up. Currently, I lead an EU-funded research program titled “Networking for Innovation” to study how networking enables entrepreneurs and innovators to achieve business and innovation success. Together with a diverse team of postdocs and PhD students, as well as local and international collaborators, I seek to understand how individuals go about building the connections they need and assess how different approaches to building and mobilizing these connections help individuals to innovate.
Networks are a fascinating field of study. Behind the scenes, the invisible webs of connections that we all have bear a strong influence on the ideas we develop and promote, but some people are better able to build and exploit strong networks than others. We observed, for example, how some R&D scientists and R&D managers closely working together excelled at innovation, because they “mirrored” each other’s networks: they gained useful input from similar but non-overlapping connections which they used to challenge one another in productive ways.