Asheim B. & Coenen L. (2005) Knowledge bases and regional innovation systems: Comparing Nordic clusters. Research Policy, 34(8), 1173-1190.
Abstract: The analysis of the importance of different types of regional innovation systems must take place within a context of the actual knowledge base of various industries in the economy, as the innovation processes of firms are strongly shaped by their specific knowledge base. In this paper, we shall distinguish between two types of knowledge base: analytical and synthetic. These types indicate different mixes of tacit and codified knowledge, codification possibilities and limits, qualifications and skills, required organisations and institutions involved, as well as specific competitive challenges from a globalising economy, which have different implications for different sectors of industry, and, thus, for the kind of innovation support needed.
The traditional constellation of industrial clusters surrounded by innovation supporting organisations, constituting a regional innovation system, is nearly always to be found in contexts of industries with a synthetic knowledge base (e.g. engineering-based industries), while the existence of regional innovation systems as an integral part of a cluster will normally be the case of industries-based on an analytical knowledge base (e.g. science-based industries, such as IT and bio-tech).
In the discussion of different types of regional innovation systems five empirical illustrations from a Nordic comparative project on SMEs and regional innovation systems will be used: the furniture industry in Salling, Denmark; the wireless communication industry in North Jutland, Denmark; the functional food industry in Scania, Sweden; the food industry in Rogaland, Norway and the electronics industry in Horten, Norway. We argue that in terms of innovation policy the regional level often provides a grounded approach embedded in networks of actors acknowledging the importance of the knowledge base of an industry.
Professor at the Business School/Centre of Innovation Research, University of Stavanger, Norway and CIRCLE (Center for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy), Lund University, Sweden
Bjørn T. Asheim is full professor of economic geography and innovation theory at the University of Stavanger, Norway. He initiated, was co-founder, deputy director and director of CIRCLE at Lund University, 2002-2012. He has been editor of Economic Geography and of Regional Studies. In 2011 professor Asheim became an Academician at the British Academy of Social Sciences.
He is one of the internationally most well-known researchers within economic geography and regional innovation studies. He has pioneered theories of regional innovation systems and learning regions, and has developed the differentiated knowledge base approach, which today is widely used by innovation researchers.
Our coffee break with researchers aim to spread knowledge about regional development and innovation by sending a camera around the world we present you different angles and insights on the topic We ask researchers directly and in a personal manner about their work We want to make scientific knowledge accessible to all
Hi, welcome to Coffee Break with Researchers
Today, I’m having a coffee break with Bjørn Asheim
Professor at the Business School and Center of Innovation Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway.
His particular expertise is in economic geography, innovation studies and regional innovation systems
Hello Bjørn thank you for accepting this invitation to my coffee break, how are you doing?
I’m doing fine and thank you for inviting me
to this interview.
It is a pleasure.
I’m having a black coffee from Costa Rica today.
Which one are you having?
I always start the day with an americano before turning to an espresso later.
I want to talk with you about one of your famous papers, the one related to how industries are embedded regionally and are shaped by industry specific knowledge-bases.
Could you please tell me what the paper was about?
Very short, the title of the paper is knowledge bases and regional innovation systems.
It is about trying to explain why you find different types of regional innovation systems in a systematic way across industries and regions.
And we use knowledge bases to try to make sense of that.
Could you please explain what knowledge bases are? Knowledge bases is pointing at this sort of ideal type like
knowledge foundation that is underpinning firms innovation processes.
So, to be able to explain differences in innovation processes like Bengt √Öke Lundvall talk with STI and DUI – Science Technology and Innovation, and DUI is Doing, Using, and Interacting
you have to understand that they are supported by different types of knowledge.
What was your main motivation in doing this research?
This paper comes out of Nordic comparative research project on SMES’s and innovation system and we observed differences in the origins and development, and the workings of regional innovation systems.
And[.1] one important part of social science is that when you don’t have any intuitive explanation of this you have to try to look for theoretical basis for this observed variance and that is the main task of social science because mostly the society is not accidental is not accidentally happening, you know,
and most of it, you can’t understand intuitively then you need theoretically-based empirical research.
Based on your findings, which are the main implications for policy making? What we did find here is that to make the argument a bit simpler, we operate with two types of innovation systems, one that is organically grown overtime, together with the collocated industries and the other one is a regional innovation systems that was strategic for buildin new industries, emerging industries.
We explain this by saying that these types of industries have two different types of knowledge bases So, the new emerging industries are based on analytical, science-based knowledge – it’s IT or biotech and things like that –
and they need new knowledge from research from the universities, that is why this relationship is of strategic importance while the other industries, the more traditional industries were broadly speaking engineering based
they have much more experience based, DUI form of doing their innovation
where you have interaction, interactive learning from many different stakeholders not only universities, but customers and suppliers,and subcontractors, and things like that and this has been organically developed overtime. Does this research feed into the idea that regions need specific innovation policies?
Yes, it underlies the argument by Michaela Trippl and Franz T√∂dtling in their famous article by the way, published in the same special issue of Research Policy “no size fits all” that you have to have place sensitive and place based innovation policy reflecting the existing industries of a region.
Thank you once again for having this nice chat with me I wish you all the best for your future research and I hope to see you next time, bye bye.
Thank you for watching if you are interested in more details about this research
you can find the description and the link to the academic publication here see you next time, bye byeTags: knowledge bases, Regional innovation systems, SMES