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Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Roman Martin and Michaela Trippl

This chapter deals with the role of clusters and public policy in new regional economic path development. New path development is analysed from an institutional perspective by focusing on changes in the wider regional innovation system (RIS), including firms, universities and governmental agencies, and by placing emphasis on the role that public policy can play. We argue that new regional economic path development requires a broad-based policy approach that stimulates cross-fertilizing effects between different industrial activities within and beyond the region. While cluster policies are well-suited to support the growth and sustainment of existing industries, policies for new path development should aim at regional diversification and variety creation, preferably based on existing strengths and expertise in the region. These ideas are central to the Constructing Regional Advantage (CRA) approach. Empirically, the chapter draws on case study research on two new regional economic growth paths in Sweden and Norway, namely the new media cluster in Southern Sweden and the Oslo Cancer cluster. While the first is an example of path renewal through combining knowledge bases, the latter is an example for new path creation based on scientific knowledge. The empirical analysis underlines the role that public policy can play in facilitating new regional economic path development.

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Edited by Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Claire Nauwelaers and Franz Tödtling

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Edited by Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Claire Nauwelaers and Franz Tödtling

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Edited by Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Claire Nauwelaers and Franz Tödtling

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Edited by Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Claire Nauwelaers and Franz Tödtling

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Edited by Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Claire Nauwelaers and Franz Tödtling

This book provides an extensive evaluation of the numerous policy instruments used by regional governments in Europe to promote innovation activity in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The instruments are compared and benchmarked in order to identify ‘good practice’, in an effort to bridge the gap between the theory of regional innovation and real-world policy implementation.
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Bjørn T. Asheim and Arne Isaksen

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Heidi Wiig Aslesen and Arne Isaksen

The chapter studies the relationship between companies’ knowledge bases and their sources, channels and geography of innovation-relevant knowledge. It questions whether some types of cluster initiative are too oriented towards establishing regional cooperation. Indeed, regional clusters and innovation systems assume that geographical agglomerations and regional cooperation stimulate firms’ innovation activity and value creation. However, companies are becoming increasingly integrated into global value chains and knowledge networks, suggesting that extra-regional resources are also important for innovation. Further, the geography of knowledge sources also varies between the types of knowledge that are central to firms’ innovation activity. The analysis shows that firms have innovation collaboration with many different types of partners, and that firms with different knowledge bases use partners differently. Analytical knowledge firms have more cooperation with universities, technology centres and suppliers than firms with a symbolic knowledge base. The geography of knowledge sources also varies as firms with an analytical knowledge base collaborate internationally, while companies in symbolic industries collaborate more with proximate actors. Informal channels for obtaining innovation-relevant knowledge are frequently used by firms, and the source of informal knowledge also varies between firms with different knowledge bases. Based on this, cluster initiatives should have a national and international perspective, and the design of cluster policy should enter a new ‘radical phase’ that takes more into account the geography of innovation sources and types of innovation channels of relevance to different cluster types.
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Arne Isaksen and James Karlsen

The chapter discusses typical features of innovation activity in peripheral regions; regions located outside daily commuting distance from large cities.  Such regions exhibit different place-specific conditions to those found in dynamic core regions, which cause peripherally located firms to innovate in certain ways. Many peripheral regions are characterized by organizationally thin regional innovation systems and bonding social capital. These are features that stimulate incremental innovations based on experience-based knowledge, which is typical of the Doing-Using-Interacting (DUI) innovation mode. Characteristics such as many DUI innovations, little local knowledge flow, low related variety of knowledge and technology and high levels of bonding social capital may result in peripheral regions becoming trapped in path extension: firms and industries strengthen their existing activity through incremental innovation, while the development of new activities through radical innovations is difficult to achieve. Firms in peripheral regions, in particular, need to source extra-regional knowledge in order to achieve more radical innovation activity. Reliance on extra-regional knowledge sources also points to the fact that external investments and policy initiatives are especially important for industrial development in peripheral regions. Firms in peripheral regions, however, need to develop organizational learning strategies in order to be able to exploit external knowledge from distant sources in their internal innovation processes.