Nearly ten years ago, I presented a paper at a special workshop organised by the European Union. It brought together a range of projects under the Targeted Socio-Economic Research initiative to present their scientific and policy findings, to debate and exchange views with some users and policy-makers and to provide some policy guidance on the regional dimension of innovation.
What these projects had in common was an analysis from different perspectives of the role and new prospects of innovation and education policies to promoting the appropriate environment for SME’s at local level.
At least three different levels of analysis were addressed namely:
- A group of projects has investigated the organisation of the linkages between education systems, namely universities, and the private sector.
- A second group of projects has analysed the networking and clustering activities of SME’s at regional and local level.
- A third group of projects tried to identify the different factors influencing the innovative capacity and competitiveness of firms at local level.
One of the major conclusions reached by all projects was that the regional and local dimension of the innovation policies is of major importance. However their effectiveness depends upon the strengthening of local and regional infrastructures, which is normally supported mainly by national and EU schemes.
The project that I co-ordinated, and which was part of the first TSER initiative, was UNITTS - Universities, technology transfer and spin-off activities : academic entrepreneurship on the periphery of Europe. The paper presented at this event formed part of the final report of the conference and was entitled "Entrepreneurial Universities Cases From The Periphery". Included is a short vignette of Graduate Placement Scheme being managed within Wales in the late 1990s. The greatest pity is that we never submitted the paper for formal publication, given the scarcity of data on this subject.
Perhaps it is time to revisit this whole area again and see whether things have changed over the last decade when it come to encouraging innovation within peripheral regions.