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PhD researchers awarded prestigious Doctoral Studies Awards

Two first year AMBS PhD researchers have been awarded prestigious Doctoral Studies Awards from the Research and Development Management Association (RADMA). 

Alejandra Navea Parra and Hien Dao are just two of six researchers nationwide to have received the scholarships this academic year. Alejandra is studying how Intellectual Property (IP) assets and their management can help businesses to thrive, while Hien is looking at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is altering the ways in which knowledge is created, transformed, and retained in innovation.

New horizons

Alejandra (pictured right) has moved to Manchester from Santiago, Chile, where she worked as an International Trade and Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer with a focus on international IP negotiations at bilateral and multilateral levels. 

She obtained her LL.M. in IP in a programme jointly organised by the University of Turin, the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), being awarded a full WIPO scholarship.

While working in the IP division of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs she negotiated IP matters in relation to several Free Trade Agreements, including with the EU and with EFTA states. She has also represented Chile at different WIPO committees held in Geneva, including the Committee on Development and IP.


At AMBS her research will focus on IP, technology contracting, start-ups and venture capital funding. She says the motivation for taking up the PhD was that she was keen to expand her knowledge and skillset beyond the legal area, and because she believes that more interdisciplinary research is key to achieving greater societal goals. 

“I was really keen to do some interdisciplinary research looking at how IP can help start-ups and I was drawn to study in the UK because it is one of the global leaders in the whole field of innovation. So this is a big opportunity for me to learn in a country which is really leading the way in terms of its innovation eco-system.”

Good IP management

Her research will specifically look at how small businesses can benefit from good IP management in terms of attracting funding.

“During the last three decades we have witnessed a transition towards knowledge-based economies. For instance, in 2020 intangible assets comprised 90% of business value within the S&P 500 companies. As such, managing IP has become a really important part of ensuring sustainable business growth, and my research will help understand how start-ups can better manage their intangible assets through IP to secure funding opportunities. My proposal also aligns with AMBS priorities around entrepreneurship and the generation, diffusion, and use of innovation.”

AI-driven innovation

The title of Hien’s PhD is AI-enabled innovation and the changing nature of organisational learning. After completing her masters at Australia National University in Business Information Systems last year, she was keen to continue to explore the increasing role that AI and machine learning plays in the wider innovation process.

“Innovation is critical for any organisation to sustain and grow, and in the years ahead machine learning will continue to replace many existing innovation activities across business. But at this moment in time we don’t know exactly how things are going to change.

“The increasing use of AI and its components as a new source of creativity has made humans no longer the only ones capable of learning and contributing to an organisation’s stock of knowledge. So my research aims to study how AI will alter the ways through which knowledge is created, transformed, and retained in innovation, and the connection between individual and organisational learning.”

Pharma industry

In particular Hien is going to research the pharmaceutical industry where recent vaccine development has demonstrated the need for new methods of drug discovery and where there is growing interest in the use of applying AI tools to drug research and development.

As she adds: “The pharmaceutical industry is an important player within the UK and globally, and big pharma companies also pay a lot of attention to knowledge management so are an ideal environment for my studies.

“My insights will inform the current debate in information systems, innovation management, and organisational research studies in terms of how AI can reshape innovation and contribute to a new view of organisational learning and innovation management theories.”
Hien is from Vietnam and has also had a number of roles in Vietnamese industry. In particular she has worked for a number of companies in Hanoi including as a supply chain analyst for Vietnam National Shipping Lines, as a project associate for the SEA Group, and as a business analyst for FPT Software.

Research focused

Both researchers say the scholarships will not only give their studies greater exposure, but will also help connect them with practitioners and help translate their research into impact.

RADMA specifically focuses on the needs of researchers, practitioners and students of research technology and innovation management, and the Doctoral Studies Programme award provides up to three years funding to prospective or mid-study PhD students. 

The organisation actually traces its roots to Manchester Business School which in 1967 founded a research unit dedicated to studies in the management of research and development.