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Because of fundamental changes in the competitive environment the amount of resources and knowledge needed in R&D activities has become overwhelming for a single organisation. Thus there is a strong need to perform R&D activities effectively in networks. This study increases the understanding about research and development networks by presenting an empirically grounded process model of formation processes of R&D networks. The model has three main elements; the initial conditions, the network webber and the cycle of subprocesses through which the formation proceeds. The process model highlights the importance of a single actor – the network webber – both in triggering the formation process and in managing the process. Moreover, the model suggests a view of the process that is cyclical – the sub-processes of enabling the network, joining, assuring continuity, formal structuring, learning and developing commitment – do not follow each other in a certain order.