Chapter 11: External collaboration for innovation: firms, industry, regions and policy
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External collaboration is a critical feature of the innovation process, facilitating the exchange and co-ordination of resources and information in the value chain. Such collaboration arises between firms (inter-firm) through local and global supply chains, open innovation strategies and/or in regional clusters. Linkages across these different levels define synergies in production, organisation and knowledge transfer that can enhance firms' innovative performance. In particular, external ties can provide resource constrained SMEs with access to a wider set of technological opportunities through information sharing and resource pooling. Accordingly, policy programmes have long been directed at nurturing and supporting the development of inter-firm co-operative ties, through supply chain fora and industry bodies. Such initiatives are now also being viewed as opportunities to build extra-regional linkages, particularly between firms and actors in leading and lagging regions. Several EU programmes (e.g., H2020, INTERREG) are a case in point. This may provide possibilities for more spatially balanced industrial development through the promotion of knowledge transfer and technological diffusion, and allow lagging regions opportunities to develop new industrial activities and 'catch up'. This chapter reviews the literature on external collaboration for industrial innovation and development focusing on relationships at firm, industry and regional levels.

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