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Knowledge adoption

Knowledge adoption is the uptake of information, concepts, tools or practices (innovation) that have been generated primarily through the Centre’s research and development program.

One of our key objectives was to develop and implement adoption pathways, frameworks and networks that ensured that our research outcomes have the greatest chance to engage, assist and influence Australian water utilities, private companies, research institutions and government agencies.

Knowledge adoption is a different approach to that of technology transfer, conventional communication or knowledge diffusion.  Information and knowledge are important factors in practice change – however they sit within a much larger and more complex system of social, political, economic and biophysical factors.  Knowledge adoption is often characterised by extension, marketing, social learning, commercialisation and communication. 

Knowledge adoption initiatives formed an integral part of our objectives and research portfolio. In addition to being a program in its own right, knowledge adoption is an integral part of each applied R&D project. Research teams involved in the Centre’s R&D program were, in various ways, knowledge adoption agents. The Centre ensured that each project had industry, utility, government and research participants, and advisory groups play a strong role in reviewing, supporting and shaping project outcomes.

Our approach to knowledge adoption

The Centre enhanced knowledge adoption of project outcomes by:

  • ensuring research projects address knowledge for adoption in their scoping, planning and implementation phases
  • ensuring research projects report on stakeholder engagement and knowledge adoption in their milestone reports and at project meetings
  • assisting research projects with advice and resources to develop useful information and knowledge for application by our partners and stakeholders

The Centre facilitated adoption pathways by:

  • ensuring resources were invested into synthesising knowledge across projects
  • building partnerships with networks, councils, forums and peak associations in the Australian and international water industry
  • developing data and knowledge management systems to assist stakeholders to find and access water recycling information
  • facilitating national knowledge, training and education programs in water recycling
  • supporting and hosting workshops, conferences and events to build partnerships, share knowledge and increase skills of water sector professionals

Managing research for uptake

Managing change from research and innovation requires a sequence of steps and processes before new ideas, approaches or products can be accepted by stakeholders and the market.  Managing research for uptake started before the research projects by building partnerships, identifying needs, setting goals and priorities, and jointly developing the research project.  It finished when there is a measurable, positive change from the ‘status quo’ in public policy or industry practices, or improved technology, or an environmental, economic or social benefit.  The process of adoption is iterative not linear; active not passive; needs to structured, not curiosity driven.

This paper explains how applied R&D organisations can better manage knowledge for adoption, how this approach was applied by the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence, and how principles of commercialisation can improve the uptake of research results by public and private organisations involved in Australia’s water industry. 

Download the paper Knowledge Adoption: Managing Research for Uptake

Adoption strategy

The Centre developed a Knowledge Adoption Plan which describes how we developed and implemented adoption pathways, frameworks and networks for the uptake of our research outcomes. The plan identifies the key tasks for 2012-14. It includes templates to assist teams in planning their specific knowledge adoption project plans and an opportunity matrix to assist teams to better formulate their value propositions and proposed applications for partners and stakeholders.

As the Centre had a national focus with a range of stakeholder groups it is important to consider the needs of each sector and target audience. In addition to our project teams, the Centre recognised that national and state networks, councils, forums and peak associations are critical pathways for the Centre to engage in reaching and influencing key stakeholders. 

Download the 2012-14 Knowledge Adoption Plan