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Edited by Philip Cooke, Bjørn Asheim, Ron Boschma, Ron Martin, Dafna Schwartz and Franz Tödtling
Vesa Harmaakorpi, Tomi Tura and Helinä Melkas INTRODUCTION Mainstream economic development policy in Europe has relied on a cluster approach and on the power of knowledge and research as the sources of innovation. Innovation policy has been to a great extent equivalent to science and technology policy. Cluster policies have aimed at building competitive advantage with strong regional and national clusters based on the logic of proximity and agglomerations. Recent discussions have, however, emphasized other forms of economic order and origins of innovation. Innovation increasingly appears to follow the logic of cross-fertilization and use of distance rather than proximity as a fuel in innovation processes. In this context, cluster policy seems to have its weaknesses. Regions that have enough related variety in their economic structure appear to be successful in building constructed competitive advantage (Boschma, 2005a). This leads to the need to focus the analysis on platforms rather than clusters. According to innovation surveys, only 4 per cent of innovations are based on scientific sources (CIS, 2004). The logic of practice-based innovation differs crucially from the logic of science-based innovation. A practical context and interaction between the two subsystems of an innovation system – acquisition and assimilation of knowledge; and transformation and exploitation of knowledge – seem to offer a lot of unused potential for innovation (Autio, 1998; Zahra and George, 2002). This potential remains largely untouched due to lack of policy measures to foster practice-based, networked innovation processes that combine diverse knowledge bases (Harmaakorpi and Melkas, 2005). The objective of this...
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