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Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling
Chapter 34: Intermediaries in Regional Innovation Systems: Role and Challenges for Policy
Claire Nauwelaers INTRODUCTION Even before the advent of the 2008 economic crisis, which highlighted the value of real assets based on economic activity, innovation has been continuously rising higher on policy agendas. Being innovative is nowadays clearly acknowledged as a necessity for companies and territories alike, not as a luxury. The slogan ‘innovate or die’ has found its way into policy circles and, in the period 1990–2010, innovation has been established as a new and legitimate policy domain. That trend is present at all levels of governance; the regional level has certainly not escaped this wave, as many contributions in this Handbook witness. The history of innovation policies in European regions, although still young, already involves a large number of experiences, and new initiatives continue to accumulate on top of traditional ones, to form a rich body of evolving policy practices. Amongst these practices, the establishment of so-called innovation intermediaries is particularly popular at the regional level. This rather fuzzy concept of regional innovation intermediaries covers in reality a wide diversity of specific organizations, established or supported by regional authorities, with the purpose to care for companies’ needs for innovation. After a period characterized by an attitude of ‘letting a thousand of flowers blossom’, public authorities are faced today with an urgent need to optimize a system that has in most cases grown in a somewhat anarchic way, lacking strategic governance. In many regions, both individual and collective effectiveness of the set of regional intermediaries is being called into...
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