New Roles for Key Players
Edited by Willem Molle and Julia Djarova
Chapter 3: Assessing the Impact of Centres of Excellence on Business Innovation: The Flemish Case
Arnold Verbeek, Elissavet Lykogianni, Valentijn Bilsen, Veerle Minne and Geert Steurs INTRODUCTION Knowledge creation, diffusion and absorption are key elements in the present debate on economic growth. Knowledge is usually the result of research, but research cannot be carried out if there is not a certain knowledge base to start with. Once knowledge is generated, it can materialise, in due time, in new applications, such as new products and processes. In that case, when the market is entered, one may speak of an innovation that at some point in time may lead to a competitive advantage and perhaps generate ‘extra’ returns to the innovator. On the firm level, innovation is a central ‘element’ of the behaviour of successful firms, essential for the improvement of social welfare and well-being, and closely related to the creation of a competitive and dynamic economic environment. This view on economic growth is subject to a number of uncertainties, especially on how the process or interaction between science, technology and economy evolves over time. From a policy perspective this uncertainty becomes manifest when we look at the ongoing initiatives (in Europe and in the USA) to better understand and influence this interaction, for example through the organisation of the national innovation system, the stimulation of linkages between industry and academia (think of the Triple-Helix notion), and the support of universities to become entrepreneurs in applying and valorising their knowledge. But the main question is whether policy makers should aim to steer this kind of interaction or...
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