Digital Innovation in University Incubators and Startups

A 5-year project supported by the SSHRC insight grant awarded in March 2017 to fund research on ‘Digital Innovation in University Incubators and Start-Ups’. This is a collaboration between Professor Yolande Chan and Professor Michael Barrett of Cambridge Judge Business School and a team of researchers at both Queen’s and Cambridge.

The research provides knowledge to decision-makers in university ecosystems to assist them in innovating. Incubator managers and start-up founders will be equipped to develop new knowledge strategies and digital strategies. Improved innovation outcomes are expected as technology is used to identify and assist university faculty, students, and staff with novel ideas, and as scientific discoveries are more quickly translated into commercial outputs in incubators. As findings are disseminated during the five-year study, they will inform research agendas, practice, and policies, and have direct economic impacts, such as increased university startup creation, survival, and innovation. The research is expected to contribute to the evolving body of knowledge on digital innovation and benefit scholars who are developing and testing related theories. Research and policy on digital innovation and the practice of entrepreneurs, startup teams, incubator managers, and university administrators will be shaped by information disseminated via the Smith Insight portal at Queen’s University and Cambridge Digital Innovation at the University of Cambridge.

SME Performance and Digital Technologies

Nadège Levallet recently joined the Growth Compass Lab (GCL) as a research fellow. The GCL is an Alberta-funded group supporting SMEs for innovation and export. In this research, Nadège is interested in examining the role of IS strategy and its impact on SME performance, using survey and interview data collected from 500 SME leaders. This includes discovering what distinguishes high-growth SMEs from other successful SMEs.

Digital Technologies and Strategic Improvisation

This research theme focuses on the role of IS and IS strategy for strategic improvisation. Nadège Levallet examines how SMEs and start-up organizations can develop capabilities to effectively improvise when faced with surprises in uncertain environments.

Public Sector IT Governance and Digital Transformation

Jim Denford is currently working on projects focused on public sector IT governance and digital transformation. The IT governance project centers around an Australia-Canada-US research network examining how best practices in IT governance can lead to higher IT and innovation performance. The digital transformation project centers around a Québec-Ontario research network looking at how organizational identity impacts digitization in key information-intensive industries

Leveraging Digital Technologies in Low-Resource Communities

Arman Sadreddin and Suchit Ahuja explore the role of affordable and accessible digital technologies in low-resource communities. Due to the lack of technology infrastructure, many communities worldwide are dealing with critical challenges. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced communities to innovate using out-of-the-box thinking given the newly imposed constraints and challenges. Thus, communities are investigating to leverage digital technologies to develop significant capabilities to help their community members achieve their goals.

Entrepreneurial Resilience: Response to Adversities

Resilience includes the ability to learn from a crisis or an adverse situation, build appropriate response mechanisms, and adapt to external shocks. In this research, Suchit Ahuja and Arman Sadreddin explore how adversity provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to reimagine their business and pivot towards newer business models and learning from experiences.

Frugal Digital Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises

In this 3-year grant from FRQSC (, Suchit Ahuja will focus on frugal digital innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in three different contexts – Asia (India), South America (Brazil/Peru), and North America (Canada). Canadian and Quebec SMEs can benefit immensely from learning about frugal digital innovation for the development of affordable, sustainable, and accessible solutions. This is particularly important for SMEs in rural areas as they have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and need to adapt to digital technologies, platforms and ecosystems, and business models to survive and develop long-term resilience. They can learn from the experiences of SMEs in Asia and South America as these SMEs encounter resource constraints, infrastructure challenges, and societal problems daily, yet somehow innovate to survive and thrive. These innovations are focused on creating economic, technological, and societal impacts.