Edited by Bjørn T. Asheim, Arne Isaksen, Claire Nauwelaers and Franz Tödtling
2. SMEs and the regional dimension of innovation Bjørn T. Asheim and Arne Isaksen While Chapter 1 analyses the characteristics of SMEs with respect to innovation, this chapter focuses on another key pillar in this book, which is the role of the regional level in innovation activity. The focus on SMEs and the regional level reﬂects changes in the approach to innovation policy since the 1980s. One distinctive feature is a greater emphasis on stimulating innovation activity in SMEs, and relatively less focus on the few national ‘champions’. Another distinctive feature is a move towards strengthening the regional dimension of policy, and, consequently, the theoretical basis for the increased focus on the regional level is examined in this chapter. However, a broad interpretation of innovation and a more interactive learning conceptualization of the innovation process lie behind both the greater emphasis on SMEs and on the regional level. This new understanding of the innovation process is, thus, further elaborated in this chapter. 2.1 SMEs IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRODUCTION AND INNOVATION SYSTEMS What is meant by the regional dimension of innovation policy? At least two main arguments can be put forward for a strengthening of the regional level in innovation policy. The ﬁrst refers to the heterogeneity of regions. This is especially recognized in the evaluation of policy instruments in this book, which includes instruments in eleven regions in eight countries, with their diﬀerent ﬁrm and industrial structure as well as distinctive innovation barriers (Chapter 3). With...
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