OECD Reviews of Regional Innovation

1997-6585 (en ligne)
1997-6577 (imprimé)
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These reviews of regional innovation examine issues connected to innovation as the regional level as well as reviews of innovation policy for specific regions.
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Regions and Innovation Policy

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04 mai 2011
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9789264097803 (PDF) ;9789264097384(imprimé)

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Regions and Innovation Policy addresses the needs of national and regional governments for greater clarity on how to strengthen the innovation capacity of regions. The first part of the book examines strategies, policies and governance, explaining why regions matter, what makes smart policy mixes, and multilevel governance.  The second part of the book looks at agencies, instruments and country information, showing how agencis can maximize their impact and what policy instruments work. The final chapter provides country-by-country summaries of what countries are doing.



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  • Foreword
    Sustainable growth at regional level is now, more than ever, predicated on the capacity to innovate. This publication focuses on two main questions: • How can regional actors support innovation that is relevant for their specific regional context, building on their human and physical assets? • How should national innovation policies take into account this regional dimension, the local nodes in global networks?
  • Preface
    For many decades now, economists have known that long-term, sustainable economic growth cannot simply be explained by increases in physical capital, natural resources or population. The accumulation of physical capital – investments in machines, buildings, roads – will increase economic output in the short run, but the mere addition of physical capital does not guarantee long-term economic growth, given the emergence of so-called marginal diminishing returns in the process of such capital accumulation. This is even more true in the case of natural resources and population growth or increased employment participation. Ultimately, long-term sustainable growth will depend on knowledge accumulation, either embodied, in smarter capital, a more efficient use of natural resources and a better-educated labour force, or disembodied, for example, as codified in patents, copyrights or trademarks. Knowledge accumulation depends on investment in education, including tertiary education, training and lifelong learning, accumulated scientific knowledge and technological advancement, and on social and institutional development. The general consensus in the literature today is that the driving force behind long-term economic growth is science, technology and innovation in its different forms and facets.
  • Executive summary
    In the wake of the 2008 financial and economic crisis, innovation is viewed as central in boosting job creation and economic growth in the quest to build stronger, cleaner, and fairer economies. This is reflected in major international agendas such as the OECD Innovation Strategy and the EU’s Innovation Union. In the new push for innovation and competitiveness, regions have increasingly become relevant actors. Two policy trends contribute to the rising role of regions. First, the paradigm shift in regional development policies favours strategies based on the mobilisation of regional assets for growth, bringing innovation to the core of regional development agendas. Second, there is a growing recognition of the regional dimension in national innovation strategies in harnessing localised assets and improving policy impacts. The increased relevance of networks and connectivity for innovation also reinforces the importance of regional innovation systems. But regions are not countries and cannot simply replicate national policies at a regional scale.
  • Summary in French
    A la suite de la crise économique et financière de 2008, l’innovation est appelée à jouer un rôle majeur pour relancer la création d’emplois et la croissance économique, au sein d’économies plus fortes, plus vertes et plus équitables. Les agendas majeurs tels que la Stratégie de l’Innovation de l’OCDE ou l’Union de l’Innovation de l’Union européenne mettent cet enjeu en évidence. Dans ce contexte, les régions deviennent des acteurs pertinents. Deux tendances contribuent à donner un rôle accru aux régions en matière d’innovation. En premier lieu, le changement de paradigme au sein des politiques de développement régional donne priorité aux stratégies basées sur la mobilisation des atouts régionaux, conférant ainsi une place centrale à l’innovation. En second lieu, les agendas nationaux de l’innovation incluent une dimension territoriale accrue : le potentiel des régions est mis à contribution pour soutenir les performances nationales. L’innovation ouverte et en réseaux implique également une approche spatiale. Mais les régions ne peuvent déployer des politiques qui soient de simples répliques des politiques nationales.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Strategies, policies and governance

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    • Why regions matter for innovation policy today
      OECD member countries identify innovation as the major driver in new models of growth, which aim to increase productivity and raise standards of living. Regions are key actors in this context but their role in innovation is complex. Regions cannot simply replicate national policies. Empirical evidence provided in this chapter shows that: i) regional innovation systems follow varied development paths; ii) heterogeneity can sometimes be more pronounced within countries than between countries; iii) while R&D and patenting are mostly concentrated in key regions in top OECD innovative countries, new regions are emerging as knowledge hubs; iv) regional collaboration and networks are becoming increasingly relevant for innovation; v) firms carry out both technological innovations (new products and processes) and non-technological innovations (such as new business models and organisational methods); and vi) design and creative industries are strongly shaped by regional factors and are vital for regional competitiveness. However, better metrics are needed to account for innovation processes in such industries.
    • Road maps and smart policy mixes for regional innovation
      Policies to promote innovation need to take into account the diversity in regional institutional structures and innovation potential, based on well-defined priorities and strategies. Strategic choices for regions depend on national development patterns and policies as well as the specific regional situation: frontier regions that are already capitalising on strong knowledge-based assets; regions that need to find a new development path due to exhaustion of past development models; or regions in a more difficult catching up situation. To implement strategies responding to these diverse conditions, a smart mix of policy instruments has to be developed. This mix should strike the right balance between the goals of knowledge creation, diffusion and absorption as appropriate for the regional context. The mix should also ensure synergies across individual instruments in view of their overall effectiveness.
    • Multi-level governance of innovation policy
      Regions are embedded in a network of governance with formal and informal competences that determine the scope for regional innovation policy. The multi-level governance of innovation policy has become increasingly complex, thanks to several trends that highlight the role of regions for innovation. This mutual dependence brings to light challenges in multi-level governance that need to be clearly diagnosed to identify adapted governance arrangements and tools for vertical and horizontal co-ordination. Regions also need to engage the right public and private stakeholders, within the region and beyond, to implement their strategies. Adapted monitoring and evaluation tools not only serve these regional strategy needs, they also reveal relevant information for more effective governance co-ordination tools.
    • Conclusions and policy advice
      Several key issues arise from the previous chapters that frame the role for regions and innovation policy. Among the most prominent are: i) the diversity of innovation strategies; ii) the fact that innovation goes beyond R&D; iii) the mismatch between functional regions and administrative borders; and iv) the generally shared governance for innovation policy across levels of government. Advice for policy makers encourages regions to be agents of change that develop a clear vision and strategic framework for innovation-driven regional development. To do so, regions should design a smart policy mix that builds on regional assets and brings together a portfolio from different policy areas. To implement this vision, more flexible governance mechanisms are required, supported by policy learning, better metrics and evidence-based experimentation.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Agencies, instruments and country information

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    • Maximising the impact of regional innovation agencies
      Regional innovation agencies are established across the OECD to deliver innovation policies at sub-national level. Various agency models are possible. This chapter illustrates the diversity of models in practice, highlights success conditions to achieve a new paradigm for innovation and regions, and discusses the key strategic challenges agencies face. Their primary challenge is to serve as change agents for the regional innovation system. They need to focus on absorptive capacities and learning processes, both for their policy targets and management of the agency itself.
    • Policy instruments for regional innovation
      This chapter reviews seven instruments frequently used in regional innovation policies. The instruments covered are: i) science and technology parks; ii) systemic initiatives: clusters, networks, competitiveness poles and competence centres; iii) innovation advisory services for existing SMEs; iv) support to innovative start-ups; v) innovation vouchers; vi) schemes for talent attraction and retention; and vii) funding for research infrastructure. The description of each instrument addresses its definition, rationale, objective, and the specificities for use at regional level. The description also highlights the adaptation of the instrument over time, including changes in policy concepts or evolving context conditions. Success factors and results from available impact assessments are also discussed.
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