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Regional Innovation Policy for Small-Medium Enterprises

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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Chapter 3: National and Regional Contexts for Innovation

Arne Isaksen


Arne Isaksen This chapter gives a general view of the different National Innovation Systems and policy contexts of the 11 regions that host the policy instruments to be evaluated and compared in subsequent chapters. The regions are located in eight countries throughout Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain (see map on page 65). The chapter (i) points to important characteristics, similarities and differences between the national innovation systems and the national ‘innovation cultures’ in these countries, (ii) describes the various approaches to regional innovation support in the countries and (iii) discusses the typical innovation barriers in the study regions. Thus, the chapter pays attention to the specific institutional and economic contexts of the 11 regions. The chapter forms a basis for some of the analyses in subsequent chapters, as differing national innovation systems and policy contexts influence SMEs’ innovation patterns (Chapter 4), the results achieved by different policy tools (Chapter 6), as well as the policy approaches selected in the regions (Chapter 8). 3.1 DIFFERENT NATIONAL INNOVATION SYSTEMS The first objective of the chapter is to disentangle some of the main similarities and differences between the eight European countries in their approach to innovation policy. Nations differ in important ways as regards their institutional set-ups, socio-economic systems and ‘innovation cultures’ (e.g. Hodgson 2002). Such variations may lead to differences in innovation policy strategies. What, then, characterizes the innovation policy contexts in these countries? In accordance...

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