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  • Series: New Horizons in Regional Science series x
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Leïla Kebir

The aim of this chapter is to analyse innovation in the field of sustainable building renovation. The current context of climate change has put the renovation of the existing building stock high on the political agenda. The chapter shows the existence of mainstream building retrofitting operations aiming mainly at meeting the requirements of public authorities. It also shows the presence of other types of projects, which are seeking exemplarity and in which the symbolic dimension is here very important and structuring. It also shows that innovation is made mainly by ad hoc local innovation networks in which distant relations are very important to access to leading-edge knowledge.

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Simone Strambach and Frederik Lindner

Sustainable innovation processes gain increasing importance in global change as a response to complex environmental and social problems. These types of innovations are closely related with the institutional and cultural context in which they occur. The blending of ecological, economic and social values – a main feature of sustainable innovations – is connected with the need for combining heterogeneous knowledge bases from various actors that are often spread over different spatial scales and sectors. The aim of the chapter is to contribute conceptually and empirically to a deeper understanding of the relation between knowledge dynamics and sustainable innovation processes in international contexts. The focus is on the territorial shaping of knowledge dynamics and the emergence of new organizational forms. The empirical results are based on Sino-German sustainable innovation processes in green construction.

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Luís Carvalho, Inês Plácido Santos and Mário Vale

This case study explores the development of the PlanIT Urban Operating SystemTM, a complex middleware platform designed to link a city’s sub-systems (for example the built environment, safety and security, energy, water), harmonizing resource flows towards manifold efficiency gains. This chapter explores the spatial and organizational context of the proponent company, Living PlanIT SA, currently headquartered in Switzerland but with relevant operations in other milieus, namely in the north of Portugal. Despite the codification of the core technology, the chapter illustrates how the interaction with different milieus provided (and keeps providing) unique resources for the technology’s development, commercialization and societal legitimation.

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Miranda Ebbekink and Arnoud Lagendijk

This chapter assesses the development of the water campus and the water technology cluster in Leeuwarden from the perspective of an ‘anchoring milieu’. In doing so, the chapter makes a broader point on the nexus between cluster policies and ambitions to boost a city’s international competitive position. It focuses, in particular, on the aspect of anchoring, and on four themes which, in the authors’ eyes, bear on anchoring: ‘relational assets’, ‘club goods’, ‘strategic intelligence’ and ‘policy leverage’. Furthermore, the importance of engagement of the business community is stressed.

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Pedro Costa

This chapter analyses the role of sustainable innovations in creative milieus, studying Bairro Alto cultural district, in Lisbon. A double perspective is used, analysing, on one hand, some sustainable innovations which have been introduced during recent years with the purpose to develop quality of life and minimize use conflicts in the area; and on the other hand, a collective sustainable innovation, linked to the perception of the risks in the evolution of the territorial system and the representations agents have about it. The chapter focuses in particular on reputation and symbolic issues which challenge more traditional approaches to urban sustainable development processes and the innovative milieu concept.

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Marcello De Rosa and Ferro Trabalzi

This chapter studies two new food networks in Rome, the so-called ‘Zero-Km Initiative’ and the Elementary School Meal Program. Involving strong producer_consumer relations, these innovative networks were created by small farmers in order to benefit from the economic potentials of new consumption patterns developing in large urban areas (demand for quality food, local food, and so on). The research focuses on the dynamics of coordination between periurban farmers and local institutions as predictors for the long-term sustainability of the two networks. The research has highlighted that when coordination involves a small number of actors (Zero-Km Initiative) the resulting action is efficient and the long-term sustainability of the network is safe. On the other hand, when the network is composed of multiple actors located at different institutional levels and geographical scales such as in the Elementary School Meal Program, the capacity for coordination is weaker if not absent.

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Véronique Peyrache-Gadeau, Sarah Rutter and Jeannie Bélicard

Alpine resorts are particularly sensitive to the question of tourism sustainability, notably because of their economic dependence on winter tourism in a context of climate change. They can be characterized by the notion of vulnerability, which reflects their adaptive capacity to coinciding issues of sustainability and adaptation to climate change. This chapter analyses four tourist resorts in the French Alps (Val d’Isère, Saint Gervais, Combloux and Les Gets) as innovative milieus that create the expertise required to address the potential challenges of this adaptive capacity. The chapter first provides an explanation of the specific characteristics of these resorts with regard to sustainable tourism, their relative sensitivity and capacity to innovate. It then examines the innovative dimension of local solutions explored in the four study sites, and their ability to stimulate real change towards sustainable development for the local communities.

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Jaime del Castillo, Jonatan Paton and Belen Barroeta

During the last 30 years, the Basque Country has experienced a phenomenon known as the ‘Great Basque Competitive Transformation’, by which the Basque region evolved from a mature and obsolete economic specialization pattern to one focused on high-tech and intensive knowledge activities where sustainability becomes one of the new emerging markets. This transformation took place due to a progressive change in the context’s conditions from a triple perspective (economic, social and environmental) where the role of public policy arose as one of the most remarkable items. The chapter analyses the case of the electric vehicle as one of the sustainable innovations resulting from the changes generated through the ‘Great Basque Competitive Transformation’.

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Bernard Guesnier

The Atlantic Nautical Network is a public interregional innovative initiative, the goal of which is to develop synergy between know-how, skills and innovation capacities in order to stimulate the transition of the nautical industry towards sustainable development. Mixing both institutional and product innovation, this project consists in the development of a new form of governance of the territorial organization of productive systems. Overcoming local frontiers, this interregional project aims at the creation of a new innovative territory (innovative milieu), with the support of the nautical industry, which constitutes an opportunity for re-industrialization.

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Mitsuru Sato and Yoshiyuki Okamoto

This chapter presents the evolution of Japan’s regional production systems through the case of the Suwa region, which is one of the regional industrial areas in Japan. The objective of the chapter is to explain the sustainable innovation process and to consider the role of a region in innovation creation. In Suwa, the active interaction of the region brings regional innovations toward sustainable development, while utilizing accumulated technology of the region. The region provides opportunities which ease the knowledge flow between actors within the region and outside the region, by establishing core organization.