Low_Tech Innovation in a High-Tech Environment? The Case of the Food Industry in the Vienna Metropolitan Region
This paper explores the opportunities for low-tech innovations in regional high-tech contexts. The literature suggests that traditional sectors tend to be only weakly integrated in such socio-institutional environments, because the specific innovation mode of low-tech industries is not compatible with the institutional framework of high-tech. Focusing on the empirical case of the food industry situated in the Vienna metropolitan region, the paper provides evidence that the link between old industries and their high-tech contexts may be more complex than commonly thought. Drawing on 20 face-to-face interviews with local companies, knowledge providers (universities and other research organisations) and industry experts it is highlighted that strong and weak forms of integration in the regional innovation system (RIS) co-exist, depending on the specific RIS dimension under consideration. Innovative companies in the local food sector, thus, embed themselves in a selective way in their regional institutional context. They make use of the scientific competences available within the RIS whilst at the same time they tend to “bypass” the RIS and tap into knowledge sources located outside the region.
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