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This book explores green innovation and future technology skill development within regional small to medium sized enterprises. Notwithstanding the goals of a greener Europe, there has been little debate as to how the skills required to fulfil the goals of sustainable development can be imparted within regions and within rural business communities.




Kelliher and Reinl discuss the links between economy and environment, before expanding on the concept of sustainable business development in the emerging green economy. The authors go on to focus on regional small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the approaches that can be taken by business, state, semi-state, education and community stakeholders to engage SMEs in the green economy. The chapter debates the value of green innovativeness, before offering an overview of an incumbent regional stakeholder engagement development programme. This green innovation and future technology (GIFT) programme pursues the potential up-skilling of regional SMEs’ green innovativeness via multidisciplinary cross-regional/national support structures and in doing so, assists in the development of the green economy.
F. Kelliher, L. Reinl

1. The Green Economy

Chapter1 sets out to define the green economy within a ‘post-carbon society’ and contemplates the emerging policy-practice gap from a regional perspective. The authors go on to discuss the challenges and opportunities exposed by this changing economic landscape, and consider green innovativeness as a catalyst for SME-driven regional sustainability. The chapter concludes with a discussion around the green economy transition process in regional SMEs and incumbent capabilities; a long-term and forward-oriented business focus, outward-looking sustainability planning ethos, and concentration on innovation capability enhancement. Combined, these capabilities promote socially inclusive and collective commercial activities to stimulate green growth, while protecting the environment.
S. Bond, H. Gittins, G. Griffiths, D. Harrington, D. Joyner, M. McDonald, E. Owens, M. Walsh

2. The Green Innovation and Future Technologies (GIFT) Concept

The GIFT concept hinges on integrated stakeholder engagement between government agencies, HEIs, SMEs, economic support groups and rural development groups, underpinned by a learning community philosophy. Once conceived, GIFT gathered cross-country/regional HEI colleagues from the natural, social and physical sciences to pursue the design, development and delivery of a collaborative green innovativeness education programme in interaction with the wider regional community. The chapter documents findings around how to leverage innovation in pursuit of green capability development within regions, and concludes with insights into how cross-border innovation and knowledge exchange happen in a green learning community. Finally, the authors propose a framework of regional SME engagement for sustainable development.
L. Reinl, F. Kelliher

3. Multilevel Engagement: Theory and Practice Integration

Chapter 3 begins by acknowledging that the pursuit of SME green skill enhancement needs to be based on collaborative action brought about through multilevel engagement. It goes on to document the design and delivery of a web-based collaborative space incorporating a virtual learning environment with an electronic discussion board, bulletin board and regular network updates, which operates alongside live interventions to optimise multilevel stakeholder contributory action and initiate relationships within and between regional SMEs and their communities. A series of GIFT case studies ‘brings to life’ the resultant interactions and activities which facilitate the exchange of experiences, resulting in regional SME connectivity with providers of specialist knowledge, beyond network, regional and national boundaries.
H. Gittins, J. Wall, A. Foley, K. Clayden, E. Young, E. Owens, M. McDonald

4. Reciprocal Knowledge-Transfer Activities between SMEs and Academia

Chapter 4 contemplates cross-border theorypractice integration as an evolutionary process. It documents the building of multiregional academic-SME knowledge interplays, which can then be expanded to reciprocal innovation knowledge transfer in a cross-border arena. Through a series of case studies, the authors offer a chronology of the three-year GIFT journey, in which the GIFT team mapped knowledge-exchange activities between cross-border multiregional GIFT members. The student-academic-SME interactions presented in the cases exemplify the value of a ‘collaborative space’, in which each participant has access to different disciplines, insights and, ultimately, knowledge. This collaborative interaction drives green innovativeness and crosses the boundaries of green innovation and future technologies in the natural-physical sciences and businesstechnology management scholarship.
M. Walsh, S. Storey, B. Dunne, E. Doyle, H. Gittins, R. Jones, S. Jones, E. Lane, J. Russell-O’Connor, A. Foley, T. Kent, M. Kennealy, E. Owens, J. Walmsley, G. Griffiths, M. McDonald, S. Bond, M. Breen, R. Griffin, D. Harrington, A. Hearne

5. Green Stakeholder Engagement: The Learning Journey

Chapter 5 presents a collection of multi-level reflections into the interdisciplinary academic collaboration undertaken by the GIFT team, with contributions from the project’s funders, the academic team and GIFT‘s advisory board. Expert/industry stakeholders and SMEs provide industry-based viewpoints on the GIFT experience and a post-graduate candidate offers a reflection prior to stepping out into the green business environment. These stakeholder insights document the pursuit of a framework of green stakeholder engagement to facilitate the development of effective crossborder relationships capable of generating the knowledge exchange activities required for green skill enhancement. The book concludes with a discussion on the constraints and opportunities inherent in engaging regional SMEs in the green economy before contemplating the next steps in this journey. Finally, a number of recommendations are offered for those seeking to optimise stakeholder contributory action in pursuit of SME innovativeness capability enhancement and sustainable development in regional green economies.
E. Doyle, G. Griffiths, E. Owens, S. Bond, L. Reinl


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