Chapter 12: Constructing Regional Entrepreneurial Advantage: Consensus Building, Technological Uncertainty and Emerging Industries
12. Constructing regional entrepreneurial advantage: consensus building, technological uncertainty and emerging industries1 Maryann Feldman and Nichola Lowe New technologies and new industries, while offering potential for economic growth, begin rather humbly, often made as discoveries in academic laboratories. At the instant of discovery, the commercial potential is unknown and only a few experts may appreciate its significance. Translating the discovery into commercial activity and realizing its economic potential entails a process that involves building an appreciation of what is possible among potential investors, customers and employees alike. Moreover, realizing the commercial potential of a technology requires taking it out of the lab, into a community and building entrepreneurial support. Increasingly there is recognition that what matters for place-specific industrial development is not necessarily scientific resources and know-how but the social dynamics that occur within a place and define a community of common interest around a nascent technology or emerging industry. Community involvement – as opposed to insular scientific dialog – can be essential to regional industrial development by constructing a shared understanding and appreciation of an emerging technology. Of course, new technologies often pose environmental, health and safety risks that are felt most immediately in the communities where the research is conducted. This can create public pressure for regulation and local oversight to protect against these risks. Harkening back to an older manufacturing economy, local regulation is often presumed to conflict with local industrial development goals. Emphasis is placed on the creation of a ‘favorable’ business climate through minimal regulation, limited public...
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