development of informal relationships.

Gatekeepers are prolific technical contributors who work and communicate with
many people, within and across disciplines and organisational boundaries. These
people are well connected in their particular technical field. As such they are
aware of the competitive risks involved in any networking activity.
Third parties, science partners and institutional mechanisms
Other networking partners can play an important role in promoting innovation particularly
for smaller firms. They include consultants and other professional service firms such
as accountants, as well as professional associations and trade associations. They also
include institutional mechanisms – publicly funded bodies designed specifically for
the purpose of facilitating innovation such as technology transfer centres.
The research highlights a number of characteristics of this type of third party
relationship. In particular these types of networking partner are useful when they act
as independent or neutral knowledge brokers. They also build trust and confidence
across networks, and act as a channel for development of informal relationships.