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Beyond clusters: Fostering innovation through a differentiated and combined network approach

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  • Evert-Jan Visser

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  • Oedzge Atzema

    ()

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    Abstract

    Over the past decades, economic and innovation policy across Europe moved in the direction of creating regional clusters of related firms and institutions. Creating clusters through public policy is risky, complex and costly, however. Moreover, it is not necessary to rely on clusters to stimulate innovation. A differentiated and combined network approach to enhancing innovation and stimulating economic growth may be more efficient and effective, especially though not exclusively in regions lacking clusters. The challenge of such a policy is to mitigate the bottlenecks associated with ‘global pipeline’, ‘local buzz’ and ‘stand alone’ strategies used by innovative firms (cf. Bathelt et al. 2004; Atzema & Visser 2005b), and to combine these strategies with a view to their complementarity in terms of knowledge effects. Private and semi-public brokers will be key in the evolving policy, as timely organizational change is crucial for continued innovation, while brokers also need to mitigate governance problems. This requires region-specific knowledge in terms of sectors, life cycles, institutional and socio-cultural factors, and yields spatially differentiated and differentiating adjustment strategies. The role of public policy is to assist in recruiting, provide start-up funding and monitor brokers. With this, policy moves towards a decentralized, process-based, region-specific, spatially diverging and multi-level system of innovation that is geared towards the evolving innovation strategies of firms.

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    File URL: http://econ.geo.uu.nl/peeg/peeg0705.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography in its series Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) with number 0705.

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    Length: 24 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2007
    Date of revision: Jun 2007
    Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:0705

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    Keywords: innovation policy; clusters; networks; governance; regionalization;

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