Jan Fagerberg, professor at the University of Oslo (UiO), served as a project leader at CAS during the 2007/08 academic year. His project, Understanding Innovation, explored research on the role of innovation from a multidisciplinary perspective.

At the time he decided to apply to CAS, Fagerberg said, the research community in Norway was not large enough to support a Centre of Excellence around the topic of innovation. Yet his idea for a project was larger than what he could accomplish on his own. A stay at CAS struck a happy medium, he said. 

Fagerberg’s research continues at UiO’s TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture.

He looked back on his stay at CAS in an interview last month.

What do you remember best from your year at CAS?

I remember several different episodes. My most vivid memory from my stay has to do with the fact that, during my stay at the Centre, I was dealing with some terrible back problems. I couldn’t sit, so I did a lot of walking -- two hours a day. I was in great shape.

But we had decided to arrange three workshops, and I had to be in attendance as the organizer. So we got a taxi with a seat in the back that could recline so far it was almost horizontal -- as well as enough room to fit an actual recliner -- and loaded us both into it, so that I could be transported to the workshop. I then spent the next two days in that recliner.

How has your career developed since your stay at CAS?

It didn’t mean that much for my career -- I’m still a professor at the University of Oslo -- but it meant a lot for my field.

One thing I really appreciated was the opportunity to invite scholars from other countries to the Centre. That led to several informal initiatives within the scope of the project that later paid dividends.

One such initiative I’d like to mention involved looking at the development of our discipline from historical and critical perspectives in order to understand how it got to the point where it was at the time. When the project ended, we had finished a draft of a journal article. We then involved other scholars to do a broader comparative project. All that work led to a special edition of Research Policy, the leading scholarly journal in our field, published in 2012. That was a product of our year at the Centre. Without that year, it never would have come together.

What advice do you have for future CAS project leaders?

I think there are several ways to organise your group. I saw that during the year I was there with the other groups. We took a sort of playful approach, where there was a set structure and agenda, but also an opportunity to develop new ideas as we went along.

I also think it’s smart to get started on the project a little in advance. A year can fly by before you know it.