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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 8: Towards a New Paradigm for Innovation Policy?

Claire Nauwelaers and René Wintjes


9 Claire Nauwelaers and René Wintjes 8.1 INTRODUCTION Innovation ranks higher on policy agendas today, at national, European and regional levels. This evolution is nurtured by the understanding that innovation is the key to economic development for advanced, high-wages countries. It is becoming visible through a gradual shift in policy statements from support for R&D and technology diffusion to the promotion of innovation. The understanding of innovation as something different from R&D and the diffusion of technology is gaining ground: innovation refers to the behaviour of enterprises, planning and implementing changes in their practices in order to come up with new products, processes, services or organization. This change in focus reflects efforts based on the view that innovation is an interactive, rather than linear, process (Rothwell 1992). On this understanding, traditional science and technology policies do not offer the unique response needed to support innovative practices. Instead, many other elements in addition to science and technology play a role in innovation and need to be tackled by innovation policy (Soete and Arundel 1993; Cowan and van de Paal 2000). Envisaged in such an enlarged framework, innovation policies are still in their infancy. The thesis at the core of this book is that the variety of regional contexts, the diversity in firms’ abilities and attitudes, and in driving forces and barriers towards innovation, prevents the search for one permanent ‘best practice’ policy, valid for each and every situation. This is not to say,...

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