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Heidi Wiig Aslesen

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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.