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'Low-tech' Industries: Innovativeness and Development Perspectives—A Summary of a European Research Project

  • Hartmut Hirsch-Kreinsen
  • David Jacobson
  • Paul Robertson

This paper introduces the findings of a European research project on the innovativeness of industrial 'low-tech' sectors. This research was carried out in the context of the ongoing discussion about the emerging knowledge society. We argue that innovation depends not only on industries with frontline technological knowledge but also on low-tech industries. Our starting point is an examination of widely held views on the strengths of high-technology, followed by a discussion of the project's objectives and methodology. Thirdly, we present the basic findings of the project. They include: statistical data stressing the importance of the low-tech sector; an elaboration of the main dimensions, resources and practices of low-tech innovativeness; and the interrelationships of low-tech with high-tech sectors. Fourthly, we discuss policy issues derived from the findings. One key policy recommendation is to support activities raising awareness of low-tech industries and their specific needs and conditions. A fundamental precondition for this is the development of a new, broader understanding of innovation that does not equate innovative ability with excellence in R&D alone. Finally, we emphasise that, in spite of globalisation and growing competition, prospects for a substantial range of low-tech and medium low-tech (LMT) sectors and companies are bright in the high-tech countries of the European Union.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Prometheus.

Volume (Year): 24 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 3-21

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Handle: RePEc:taf:promet:v:24:y:2006:i:1:p:3-21
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