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About this book

This book discusses the importance of innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in supporting regional competitiveness. It also encourages academics, business professionals and policy-makers to rethink innovation ecosystems as drivers of regional competitiveness, demonstrating the complex interactions between regional economic and social actors, and their impact on regional competitiveness. Further, the book examines the role of entrepreneurship and innovation policies in different regions (e.g. lagging regions, rural regions, etc.), and describes critical success factors in multi-level technologies and innovation policies and strategies.

Table of Contents


Regional Helix Ecosystems and Economic Growth

An infinity of regional innovation models has been described in the literature over the last few decades, with emphasis on innovative means, new industrial spaces, industrial clusters, industrial districts, regional clusters, learning regions or more recently, high-tech areas, clusters of knowledge-based industries, regional innovation systems, as well as innovation networks. A complementary approach, the Triple Helix model, suggests that territorial competitiveness largely depends on the trilateral relations between companies, government and universities that emerge in regions inserted at different stages of development. More recently, the term Quadruple Helix introduced the fourth dimension, represented by civil society, including at this level the end user (consumers, local associations, etc.), with an institutional role in the creation and dissemination of knowledge for innovation and development. Massively, the Triple Helix model and the regional innovation systems model have been exploring the territorial dimension of innovation in a concerted way. The Regional Helix concept recognizes the contribution of both schools to improving the understanding of the relationship between territories, innovation and competitiveness. In this approach, universities play a key role in building dense ecosystems of competitiveness in sparse regional environments. The ability to align endogenous resources and capabilities with territories’ smart specialization strategies is now a new priority. It is important to ensure new levels of urban sustainability, green growth strategies and consolidated levels of health and well-being. There is an urgent need to clarify the role of clusters in boosting these ecosystems of regional sustainable competitiveness, realizing what direction to follow in terms of regional industrial restructuring.
Luís Farinha, João J. Ferreira, Marina Ranga, Domingos Santos

The Role of Universities in Building Dense Triple Helix Ecosystems in Sparse Regional Environments

University-industry-government relationships driving regional innovation are often discussed by using the shorthand of the ‘triple helix’, referring to any arena where these partners come together. This rapid expansion of the idea’s use risks it becoming a ‘policy concept’ whilst potential tensions of collaboration can be ignored. Instead of ‘happy family stories’ of well-functioning regional partnerships, we seek to explore how triple helix mechanisms may stimulate regional innovation systems in places that have traditionally not had a long history of collaboration. Whilst universities are often dominant drivers of innovation in these ‘sparse’ regional innovation ecosystems, they may not be fit to respond to the identified regional needs. We address this by using empirics from five regions with relatively sparse triple helix environments and present evidence on the ways in which the universities have sought to play the role of tertius gaudens—honest broker—helping to address the stalemates that emerge between partners with very different goals, norms, values and intentions around regional innovation. We identified several processes through which universities can play this role and thereby contribute to densifying sparse innovation environments, increasing agglomeration and diversity whilst helping to address the tensions and problems that densification brings.
Maria Salomaa, Liliana Fonseca, Lisa Nieth, Paul Benneworth

Between Good Intentions and Enthusiastic Professors: The Missing Middle of University Social Innovation Structures in the Quadruple Helix

This chapter considers the role of universities in stimulating social innovation, and in particular the issue that despite possessing substantive knowledge that might be useful for stimulating social innovation, universities to date have not been widely engaged in social innovation activities in the context of Quadruple Helix developmental models. We explain this in terms of the institutional logics of engaged universities, in which entrepreneurial logics have emerged in recent decades, that frame the desirable forms of university-society engagement in terms of the economic benefits they bring. We ask whether institutional logics could explain this resistance of universities to social innovation. Drawing on two case studies of universities sincerely committed to supporting social innovation, we chart the effects of institutional logics on university-supported social innovation. We observe that there is a “missing middle” between enthusiastic managers and engaged professors, in which four factors serve to undermine social innovation activities becoming strategically important to HEIs. We conclude by noting that this missing middle also serves to segment the operation of Quadruple Helix relationships, thereby undermining university contributions to societal development more generally.
Paul Benneworth, Jorge Cunha, Ridvan Cinar

Why Do Publicly Funded Firms Find the University More Useful to Innovate Than Others? Can We Accomplish the RIS3 Target?

The failure of the deterritorialised innovation policy addressing the regions based on the “one-size-fits-all” policymaking made the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) become the Holy Grail of the European cohesion. This policy strategy is part of a multilevel framework, which encompasses national and regional vectors harmonising transversal strategies and combining different aspects to generate a consistent policy mix. This growth strategy will reinforce the existence of an innovative and knowledge-based society, which aims to raise welfare, promote responsible practices, modernise economic activity and spread prosperity.
Sustainable growth will optimise the use of resources, boost the efficiency levels, generate competitiveness and respect the environment. Inclusive growth will promote social and territorial cohesion which is sought after in the convergence policy, which has slowed down the pace after the financial crisis.
The development of regional competitive advantages will rely on the establishment of relevant linkages between the Academia and the private institutions in knowledge creation and transfer. In this vein, the University is expected to play a central role, facing important challenges and requiring transformations, mostly in the case of less favoured regions.
Productivity raise, construction of comparative advantages, market consolidation and profit maximisation, required to avoid the obsolescence of firms, will rely in the prosecution of innovative activities. Despite being risky, these activities are sought by firms as a source of economic performance increase, being the building blocks of a profit maximisation strategy. The velocity at which innovation occurs will differ among industrial sectors due to their singularities along with other firm structural characteristics, still, those who perform innovative activities are more prone to achieve higher standards of turnover growth and profits. The organisational competences concerning human capital, knowledge absorption, accumulation and diffusion will enhance the innovation capabilities, thus generating advantages. In this path, Universities will be determinant as they may leverage the success of the entrepreneurial innovativeness throughout the provision of relevant knowledge, productive techniques and methods. Absorbing, transforming and exploiting the general knowledge provided by the University will be the firms’ incumbency which will reflect the speed and the success of the individual’s innovative performance. Considering the reinforced role of the Academia as a knowledge producer and therefore inside the innovation process, the existence of incipient connections with firms will be unbearable.
What enables and hinders University-firm linkages is, so far, overlooked in the literature demanding for the comprehensive analysis, in particular the causes of its failure, and the accurate policy mix that overcome the situation is vital for a successful RIS3.
The singularities of this policy framework require redirection of the tools and actions to be taken such as incentives, grants, loans and subsidisation strategies. Empirical results shed light to the significant difference observed in the classification of the University as a source of information for innovation between public monies recipients and other firms. Among public funding beneficiaries, the Academia is an important source of knowledge to draw upon; conversely, for the other firms, it seems of poor importance the knowledge conveyed in the contact. In general, firms fail to consider the University as a relevant source of information for innovation, which seems to be incompatible with the establishment of smart specialisation strategies.
These unexplored connections, which pledge the success of the present innovation policy, and reinforce the importance of its appraisal to fully understand the determinants of University-firm linkages and its connection to public subsidisation, encompassing the identification of the most effective beneficiaries. The econometric estimations, relying on the CIS, were run considering a panel of firms operating in Portugal, which provides the empirical evidence for a moderate innovation milieu which is poorly done so far as most of the studies focus on innovation leader.
The findings reinforce the existence complementarities among policy instruments and highlight that new avenues of research should explore other policy instruments such as open innovation frameworks.
Joana Costa

Applying Regional VRIO Model to Island Regions: An Evaluation of RIS3

This research aims to evaluate the stakeholders’ perception on the areas of smart specialization strategy (RIS3) defined for a given region. A quantitative methodology was followed through questionnaires applied to different stakeholders from two Portuguese island regions (Madeira and Azores); regional VRIO model was tested for these regions. The results of the research indicate that stakeholder perception is not the same as its policy makers in the areas of smart specialization defined in the RIS3 of the region where they belong. Our research provides support to policy makers in regional strategies modeling, assessing, and measuring island regional performance. Furthermore, this research suggests measures to conduit the gaps found in the island regions’ smart specialization strategies.
João Lopes, José Oliveira, Paulo Silveira

Implications of Urban Sustainability, Socio-ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services

This paper has the aim to analyze the implications that urban sustainability, socio-ecosystems, and ecosystem services have as the bases to design the urban green growth strategies. The method used is the analytic based on the theoretical and conceptual literature reviews on the topics described. A qualitative analysis offers better knowledge outcomes than a quantitative analysis using models that are based on a limited subset of implications between sustainability, socio-ecosystems, and ecosystem services with strong limitations because uncertainties and ambiguities are difficult to quantify if not impossible. Urban sustainability and environmental performance integrates biodiversity and socio-ecosystems for the provision of better quality ecosystem services supported by green infrastructure design into the green projects aimed to achieve economic and environmental benefits. It is concluded that the ecosystem services and human well-being may suffer irreversible severe declines if sustainability is not built based on biodiversity of socio-ecosystems, green infrastructure, and natural capital.
José G. Vargas-Hernández, Karina Pallagst, Justyna Zdunek-Wielgołaska

Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Tuning the Regional Engine’s Helix Through Smart Specialization

The present research aims to contribute for the analysis of the theoretical evolution of the triple helix, quadruple helix, quintuple helix, and multiple helix concepts, embracing the dynamic interaction of different stakeholders in the context of regional innovation systems. Following a preliminary literature review on the subject, it was possible to develop a systematic literature review with a bibliometric analysis of research that addressed the evolution of the triple helix until the multiple helix, into the regional innovation systems perspective. Extensive research was conducted using the Web of Science database between 1990 and 2018, covering a total of 378 articles, generators of 9991 citations. Four clusters were found in the literature for this field of research: R&D Collaborations and Innovation; Entrepreneurial Activity in Entrepreneurial University; Triple Helix Dynamics; and Quadruple Helix in Regional Innovation Systems. New theoretical perspectives based on bibliometric analysis and new research paths have been identified, aiming to better understand the regional interaction of stakeholders for innovation and entrepreneurship.
João Lopes, João J. Ferreira, Márcio Oliveira, Luís Farinha, José Oliveira

Regional Industrial Restructuring

This chapter studies regional industrial restructuring and focuses on the role of the ecosystem for restructuring. The chapter examines more precisely how various types of ecosystems hold different preconditions for regional industrial change. The question is how various stages of the restructuring process are affected by the ecosystem. The chapter moves beyond traditional evolutionary economic geography by examining a wide range of actors, mechanisms, and outcomes. A particular focus is placed on the importance of asset modification for regional industrial restructuring. The chapter concludes by suggesting that thin regional innovation systems (RISs) mainly support the reuse of existing assets which mainly leads to regional industrial path extension. Thick and diversified RISs, on the other hand, are better conditioned to promote more radical changes like asset creation and asset destruction which can support regional industrial path creations.
Jan Ole Rypestøl

The Role of Clusters in the Smart Specialisation Process: The Case of Inovcluster in Portugal

Clusters are a key driver of the competitiveness and economic growth of a region, and they become even more important when the region has a smart specialisation strategy that involves clusters as dynamic innovation stakeholder. This chapter illustrates how Inovcluster, an agri-food cluster oriented on SMEs and microbusiness, operates within the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) of the centre region of Portugal, promoting regional business competitiveness. The chapter also examines the ways in which Inovcluster acts in order to effectively improve the market position and behaviour of its members.
Teresa Paiva, Cláudia Domingues, Luis Farinha, Marina Ranga

Incubation: Does It Make a Difference After Graduation? Analysis from Portugal

In this chapter, we analyse the context in which two regional and university incubators were created and from which 32 companies graduated. The 2016 results for these companies are compared against the same set of results for 32 non-incubated companies. All 64 companies are of the same age (started between 2007 and 2011), work in technology and are located in the District of Aveiro. We conclude from the results that there is no significant difference as regards general business results. However, a closer examination of specific indicators shows that incubated companies behave differently from non-incubated ones in terms of the productivity of their intangible assets, grant dependency and external markets openness.
Daniel Ferreira Polónia, Jorge Cunha, Tiago Leite
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