Table of Contents

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.