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Department of Management

Professor Allen Alexander

Professor Allen Alexander

Associate Professor in Innovation and Circular Economy

 +44 (0) 1326 254456

 Stella Turk Building B046-021, Stella Turk Building


University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE


Allen is a senior researcher, investigating the role that innovation and knowledge-based capabilities play in enabling a transition toward the Circular Economy (CE), in particular focussing on Circular Acceleration.  At product/service level this considers Circular Innovations; at firm-level Circular Business Models and at regional, national or societal-level, how CE principles contribute to socio-economic transition theories.  His prior engineering career provides him with unique skills and has enabled him to team up and research alongside colleagues in the Marine & Maritime Renewable Technologies, Transport & Mobility and Construction.  As Principal Investigator he holds a number of UKRI and European-funded research grants, leads a team of CE researchers based on the Penryn Campus, and is an active member of a number of high-profile academic networks focusing on innovation.

Awarded the Global Innovation Fellowship 2019-2021 by the International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM); is part of the BEIS Project Review Group; reviews for the UKRI - BBSRC, NERC & Innovate UK programmes and has held various appointments for EU Horizon 2020 and European Institute of Innovation & Technology.  He was also selected as a Peter Pribilla-Siftung Foundation Innovation Fellow at the Technical University of Munich and a visiting Research Fellow of the Centre for Leading Innovation & Co-operation at HHL Graduate School of Management, Germany.

Allen released his latest book in 2020, The Radical Innovation Playbook and is published extensively in world-leading and world-class, peer-reviewed research journals.  He is also a Member of the Association for Project Management, Member of the Institute of Knowledge Transfer and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Nationality: British



  • MSc in Engineering Management
  • PhD in Engineering

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Research interests

  • Circular Economy
  • Circular Innovation & Acceleration
  • Innovation Assesment and Audit
  • Continuing Entrepreneurship

In a transition to a Circular Economy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship will have a key role to play.  Firm- level business models will need development and acceleration, societal governance and policy will need to create windows of opportunity and importantly radical innovations will be needed to secure a timely progression.

Grounded on the principles of Strategic Knowledge Management, where knowledge is a key resource of the firm, extensive empirical work suggests effective management and leverage of both internal knowledge and “brought-in” knowledge can lead to enhanced competitive advantage and enable transitions to CE accordingly.

It is this axis that Allen is interested in, whether knowledge comes from a University or Private Research Organisation or is generated through inter-firm linkages, if managed correctly, this knowledge, can be an important source of innovation.

Research projects

Award Type & Role

Title & Total Award Value



EU Grant


WEFO – Lightweight Electric & Hydrogen Transport Systems

£2.8M partnered with Swansea University & Riversimple  

January 2021

July 2023


EU Grant


Higher Level Skills for Smart Specialisation

£1.8M across 5 Partners in SW region – Led by Exeter

November 2020

July 2023


EU Grant


EUROSWAC – Seawater Air Conditioning

€1.9M Interreg collaborating with CEMPS and 6 EU Partners

October 2020

July 2023




Circular Economy Network+ Feasibility Study

£20k partnered with Warwick Manufacturing Group

July 2020

January 2021


EU Grant


Future Focus II (Circular Economy, Innovation & Leadership)

£3.5M across 5 Partners in SW region

January 2020

December 2022


EU Grant


FanBEST – Blue Economy Knowledge Exploitation

£1.8M Interreg collaborating with CEMPS & 8 EU Partners

January 2019

December 2021


EU Grant


Marine-I – Research-led Masterclass on Innovation

£20 000 to develop a 3 day masterclass to Cornish SMEs

December 2018

June 2019




Innovation Acceleration Account – Knowledge Exchange

£20 000 with Cornwall Marine Networks and County Council

January 2017

June 2017


Seedcorn Fund


Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the UK’s Peripheral Regions

£10 000 to join a UK-wide study inc. N.Irl & Scottish Boarders

March 2015 September 2015


EU Grant


GENIE – Growth & Entrepreneurs Network in the Channel Area

€1.2M with 13 partners in the UK and Northern Europe

September 2013 March 2015


EU Grant


BENEFITS – Exploring Corporate Innovation Mgmt. Capability

€1.8M with 4 partners in the UK and Northern Europe

October 2012

October 2014


ERDF Grant


CALMARE – Business Technology Centre in Advanced Materials

£2.2M with College of Engineering & Physical Sciences

February 2013

February 2015


Contract Res.


IF2 – Exploring Innovation Fitness to build IMC

£120 000 with DCC and UoE Stakeholders

September 2012

September 2014


AHRC Grant


REACT Hub – Developing collaborative partnerships with creative organisations, £2.5M with Bristol, Cardiff, Bath, UWE & Watershed

June 2011

June 2014


Contract Res.


Hi-CAT–Building Hi-involvement Innov. Cap. in EDF B2B ops.

£100 000 (RKT Open Innovation Grant matched £50 000)

March 2013

December 2014


Contract Res.


Intellectual Property Office Fast Forward Competition

£80 000 to develop IMC for SW business advisory networks

April 2012

April 2013


Contract Res.


SELEX Galileo Systems Ltd

£21 000 to explore Servitisation as a corporate capability

October 2012

June 2013


Research networks

International Society for Professional Innovation Management 

Exeter Centre for Circular Economy

Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures & Commerce

ISPIM Special Interest Group - Circular Innovations

EURAM Special Interest Group - Innovation

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Alexander A, Kokshagina O (2020). The Radical Innovation Playbook: a practical guide for harnessing new, novel or game-changing breakthroughs.  Berlin, De Gruyter.
Alexander AT, Berthod O, Kunert S, Torsten O, Washington A (2015). Failure-Driven Innovation. Berlin, Artop - Institut an der Humbolt Universitat.

Journal articles

Manolchev C (In Press). Learning through Games: Facilitating Meaning-Making in Online Exchanges. Management Learning Abstract.
Cherrington R, Manolchev C, Alexander A (2024). Enabling Circular Economy Practices in Regional Contexts: Insights from the UK Southwest. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management Abstract.
Cherrington R, Marshall J, Alexander AT, Goodship V (2022). Exploring the circular economy through coatings in transport. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 32, 136-146.
Manolchev C, Cherrington R, Alexander A (2022). Towards ‘Employability 3.0’: from Practice to Praxis. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education Abstract.
Albats E, Alexander AT, Cunningham JA (2022). Traditional, virtual, and digital intermediaries in university-industry collaboration: exploring institutional logics and bounded rationality. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 177 Abstract.
Albats E, Alexander A, Mahdad M, Miller K, Post G (2020). Stakeholder Management in SME open innovation: interdependencies and strategic actions. Journal of Business Research
Alexander A, Manolchev C (2020). The Future of University or Universities of the Future: a Paradox for Uncertain Times. International Journal of Educational Management
Miller K, Alexander AT, Cunningham J, Albats E (2018). Entrepreneurial Academics & Academic Entrepreneurs: a Systematic Literature Review. International Journal of Technology Management
Oberg C, Alexander AT (2018). The openness of open innovation in ecosystems - Integrating innovation and management literature on knowledge linkages. Journal of innovation and knowledge, 4, 211-218.
Alexander AT, Miller K (2018). University Knowledge Transfer: Exploring organisational structures to create strategic alignment. International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation
Alexander A, Martin DP, Manolchev C, Miller K (2018). University–industry collaboration: using meta-rules to overcome barriers to knowledge transfer. The Journal of Technology Transfer
Bessant J, Trifilova A, Alexander AT (2017). Responsible Innovation in Healthcare - the case of digital TV. International Journal of Innovation Management, 21
Trifilova A, Bessant J, Alexander AT (2016). How can you teach Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Technology Innovation Management Review, 6, 45-50.
Alexander AT, Neyer AK, Huizingh KRE (2016). Introduction to the special issue: Transferring knowledge for innovation. R and D Management Abstract.
Miller K, McAdam R, Teague S, Alexander AT (2016). Knowledge transfer in university quadruple helix ecosystems: an absorptive capacity perspective. R & D Management, 46(2), 383-399.
Trifilova A, Bessant J, Alexander A (2016). Q&A. How can you Teach Innovation and Entrepreneurship?. Technology Innovation Management Review, 6(10), 45-50.
Trifilova A, Bessant J, Alexander A (2016). Q&A. How can you Teach Innovation and Entrepreneurship?. Technology Innovation Management Review, 6(10), 45-50.
Alexander AT, Miller K, Fielding S (2015). Open for business: Universities, entrepreneurial academics and open innovation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 19(6). Abstract.
Alexander AT, Childe SJ (2013). Innovation: a knowledge transfer perspective. Production Planning and Control, 24(2-3), 208-225. Abstract.
Jackson J, Strickland M, Greaves D, Alexander AT (2012). A review and comparative study of innovation policy and knowledge transfer: an Anglo-French perspective. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 15(2), 12-28. Abstract.
Bessant, J, Alexander AT, Rush, H, Tsekouras, G, Lamming, R (2012). Constructing learning advantage through networks. Journal of Economic Geography, 12(15), 1087-1112.
Bessant JR, Alexander AT (2012). Developing innovation capability through learning networks. Journal of Economic Geography
Alexander AT, Martin DP (2012). Intermediaries for Open Innovation: a competence-based comparison of Knowledge Transfer Offices practices. Technological Forecasting & Social Change Abstract.


Guzzo D, Mascarenhas J, Alexander A (2023). 10 the transformational power of Circular Innovation. In  (Ed) Handbook of the Circular Economy, De Gruyter, 147-174.
Alexander A (2023). Introduction. In  (Ed) Handbook of the Circular Economy, De Gruyter, 19-24.
Okorie O (2023). Riversimple: Mobility. In Alexander A, Pascucci S, Charnley F (Eds.) Handbook of the Circular Economy Transitions and Transformation, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 385-385. Abstract.
Pascucci S, Alexander A, Charnley F, Fishburn J (2023). The circular economy: landscape, dimensions and definitions. In  (Ed) Handbook of the Circular Economy, De Gruyter, 1-16.
Bessant J, Alexander A, Wynne D, Trifilova A (2019). Design space in digital healthcare - the case of health information TV. In  (Ed) Responsible Innovation in Digital Health, Edward Elgar Publishing.
Alexander AT, Childe SJ (2012). A Framework for the Transfer of Knowledge between Universities and Industry. In Frick J (Ed) Value Networks: Innovation, Technologies and Management, Germany: Springer Verlag GmbH Berlin & Heidelberg. Abstract.
Alexander AT, Childe SJ (2011). Innovation & Knowledge Transfer. In Rannenberg K (Ed) IFIP Advances in Information & Communication Technology, London: Springer.


Albats E, Alexander AT (In Press). Crossing (or not?) the 'valley of death': University-industry collaborative e-platforms. ISPIM Innovation Summit.
Bessant J, Trifilova A, Alexander AT (In Press). Responsible Innovation in Healthcare - the case of digital TV. XXVIII ISPIM Conference.
Cherrington R, Manolchev C, Alexander A (2023). Towards a Circular Economy: Insights from a UK Rural Community. XXXIV ISPIM Innovation Conference. 4th - 7th Jun 2023.
Cherrington R, Alexander A, Boehm S, Manolchev C, Monciardini D, Pascucci S (2021). The sociomateriality of plastic waste: a cross-case comparison. ISPIM Innovation Conference – Innovating Our Common Future. 20th - 23rd Jun 2021.
Alexander A, Boehm S, Pascucci S, Cherrington R (2020). Circular Innovations: Sustainable Innovations, Eco-Innovations and Circular Regeneration?. the ISPIM Innovation Conference – Innovating in Times of Crisis. 7th - 10th Jun 2020.
Cherrington R, Alexander A (2020). Innovation in the periphery: the case of SMEs in Cornwall. ISPIM Connects Global 2020: Celebrating the World of Innovation. 7th - 8th Dec 2020.
Alexander AT, Hopkinson P, miller J, Miller M (2018). 21st century innovation: What is the name of the new game?. XIX ISPIM Conference. 17th - 21st Jun 2018.
Hurmelinna-Laukkanen P, Alexander A, Dallenbach U, Papageorgiou K (2018). The promiscuity of publishing partners. XIX ISPIM Conference. 16th - 20th Jun 2018.
Jones K, Trifilova A, Alexander AT, Bessant J (2017). Creating Novel Approaches to Developing Tacit Knowledge and Skills in Innovation Management. Nairobi Innovation Week.
Alexander AT, Miller K (2017). Innovating in Peripheral Regions - Keep it in the family, close to home!. XXVIII ISPIM Conference.
Albats E, Alexander AT, Mahdad M, Post G (2017). Open Innovation: Exploring the reality for Universities and SMEs. XXVIII ISPIM Conference.
Trifilova A, Bessant J, Alexander AT (2016). Enabling Innovation through Storytelling. 23rd Innovation and Product Development Management Conference.
Miller K, Alexander AT, Albats E (2016). Entrepreneurial Academic Entrepreneurs: Understanding micro social factors and legitimacy. XXVII ISPIM Conference.
Russell W, Alexander AT, Bessant J (2016). Fighting tradition: Developing ambidextrous capabilities across the innovation portfolio. XXVII ISPIM Conference.
Albats E, Figenbaum I, Alexander AT (2016). Innovation intermediaries in university-industry collaboration: analysis of online platforms. XXVII ISPIM Conference.
Alexander AT, Miller K (2016). University Knowledge Transfer: Exploring organisational structures to create strategic alignment. 2nd ISPIM North American Symposium.
Alexander AT (2014). Innovation management capabilities for Start-ups and Spin-offs: a literature review. 30th Annual IMP Conference. 1st - 6th Sep 2014.
Alexander AT (2014). Innovation management capabilities in the creative sector. the XXV ISPIM Conference - Innovation for Sustainable Economy & Society. 8th - 11th Jun 2014.


Wood T, Alexander AT, Bessant J (2014). An Evaluation of Bridging the Gaps: the Exeter Science Exchange.

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External Engagement and Impact

Allen currently leads two prioritised, impact case studies for the REF2020 submission.

  • Developing Innovation Management Capability from atypical economic indicators is based on work to bring forward an assessment tool and subsequent diffusion and adoption programme with regional business in the SW.
  • Teaching and Coaching Innovation & Entrepreneurship Innovatively looks at work undertaken with Nokia, Lufthansa, BMW, Lego, Aachen Munchener and Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust working directly with novel teaching and coaching methods for 180 senior executives to create a culture of corporate entrepreneurship.

External positions

  • Member of the International Society for Professional Innovation Management,
  • Member of the Institute for Knowledge Transfer,
  • Member of the Association for Project Management
  • Member of the ESRC / Innovate UK – Innovation Caucus (
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts

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Allen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  He currently leads two modules on Social & Technological Innovation and Project Management and has previously taught one module on our One Planet MBA (Innovation & Knowledge in the Wilds). 

He has been involved in winning three teaching development grants recently:

Award Type & Role Award Title & Value Dates
TeAching & Coaching Innovation innovaTively (TACIT)
€ 1.0M across 4 Universities and 8 European Industry Partners
Jan 2016
Jan 2019 - 3 Yrs
Academic Open Innovation Network
€ 1.2M with 50 University partners from across Europe
March 2014
March 2016
DiCAMP – MSc in Innovation Management in Tunisia
€ 1.8M with 5 University partners in France & Germany
July 2012
July 2014



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Supervision / Group

Research Fellows

  • Ruth Cherrington

Postgraduate researchers

  • Jess Fishburn

Research Technicians

  • Hollie Kirk
  • Philippa Mina

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Office Hours:

Monday 09.00 to 11.00 and Friday 09.00 to 11.00 

(subject to change on occasion, so email for an appointment)

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