Innovation driven local and regional growth

by Lars-Goran Larsson on May 18, 2012

Innovation as driver for business development and growth is undisputable. Why shouldn’t it also be a fundamental key to development of societal prosperity? Of course it is! The mechanisms of innovation are as valid and adaptable to public sector development as it is to the private business life.

Then, what does development by innovation mean? What does it take and mean to adapt generic innovation principles to local communities and regional growth?

– Let us start by recapitulate the definition of innovation as expressed by Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), which still today is more valid than ever: "Innovation is creative destruction where entrepreneurs combine existing elements in new ways".

This postulate is visualised by figure 1 below.
(ref. Prof. Henry Chesbrough, UC Berkley, 2004) 

Though this "open innovation" model describes the principles for a corporate innovation process it is as valid for the public sector – especially, integrated into the context of a quad helix (more below) environment. Simply exchange some of the words and phrases used in the model by adequate local and regional growth fundaments; i.e.: global competitive profile areas, effective and coordinated project management and pro-active funding, cross-sectoral integration, international co-operations and networking capabilities, value proposition, basic entrepreneurial and inward investment structures, a seamless quad-helix "system", etc.

These basics, combined with an inalienable outside-in perspective and seamless integration of local, regional and international business life and government, academia and the civil society, all together forms the "public innovation system". In order to successfully drive, manage and govern these integrated processes according to generic innovation principles a structured quad-helix  organisation coordinated by a strong context management function is imperative.

Figure-2 – Quad Helix governance

Quad helix

Now, why is then generic business innovation principles equally important (and applicable) for local and regional growth as they are for private business development and growth? Simply because they form an inseparable symbiosis. Public growth and prosperity is not possible to achieve without an equally prosperous business life, academic learning and research, talent provision and a human focused civil society which in a sustainable way cares for the development of people, environment and basic life fundamentals.

This is why local and regional growth must be seriously anchored in generic and transparent innovation principles.

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