Regional development platform analysis as a tool for regional innovation policy
European regions have to direct their innovation and technology policies in the world of ever increasing competition. Right kinds of policy decisions aiming towards sustainable futures are essential in achieving competitive advantage for a region. The strategic choices are especially important because of the often very scarce resources in a region. The evolutionary economic theory has indicated the great difference of the development paths of the regions in seemingly similar circumstances, which manifests the unique character of each region, and the need of understanding the importance of path dependency in regional development. Helpful tools for supporting regional strategy building and decision-making in extremely different regions are needed. In this study, 'Regional Development Platform Analysis' is presented as a method of finding the regional potential for future development strategies. The method is under construction at Helsinki University of Technology Lahti Center. It needs a lot of further development in order to fulfil the demands of a real instrument for regional development. However, this paper presents a pilot case conducted in Lahti Region, where the method has been used as a tool for building the regional science park concept. A regional development platform is a concept understood as an industry or expertise based 'platform' presenting the business potential of the actors working for the platform. The actors of a regional development platform are the firms technology centers, expertise centers, research centers, education organisations etc. contributing to the defined development platform. A regional development platform has to be defined separately each time. A development platform is often based on an industry, including the development organisations and the regional innovation system supporting the development of the industry/platform. The analysis method consists of four phases: -Background study of the region, -expert analysis, -study of possible technological scenarios in the future, -development platform analysis. In the background study, all the available statistical data was gathered pertaining to regional economics, industries and expertises in Lahti region. And if possible, the regional data was compared with the data of the national level. In the second phase, an expert analysis panel was organised. The 30 respondents working for regional development organisations were asked to give marks to 15 industries using 10 given criteria. The same was asked of 13 expertises using five given criteria. The grade of importance of the connection between industries and expertises was asked as well. The material prepared in the first phase was given to the respondents. In the third phase, a brief look was taken at possible technological scenarios affecting the region in the future. Technological changes might change radically the potential of a development platform in the future. The regional development analysis of Lahti Region itself was conducted by using the material produced in the first three phases. The most potential development platforms were outlined for the future development strategies. The development platform analysis was also used as substantial basis in defining the science park concept of Lahti Region.
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- Bjørn Asheim & Michael Dunford, 1997. "Regional Futures," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(5), pages 445-455.
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