Regional Innovation

If innovation, defined broadly, has become understood as the driver of economic growth and increasing prosperity. then likewise, regions have become one of the primary organizing frameworks for understanding how innovation and economic growth occur. The vigor and dynamism of regional economies depends in large part on the ability of local firms to adapt to changing markets and technologies by continually introducing commercially viable products, services, production processes and business models – that is, by innovating successfully. How regional assets in the form of institutions, networks, and leadership contribute to the innovative process is the subject of substantial research across a variety of disciplines. IPC research explores the mechanisms and processes that underlie regional innovation systems with the goal of answering the question, how can local and regional communities prosper in the rapidly changing and increasingly open global economy?

The IPC is engaged in a variety of ways on questions related to regional innovation and economic development. From an industry studies perspective, the IPC is working in clean energy, researching how energy innovation might be driven at the regional level as well as the national level. The IPC hosted a New England regional energy summit in October, 2010 discussing the opportunities and challenges that face that region in growing the clean energy industry. The IPC is also working with leaders in Massachusetts in the biomanufacturing industry to understand how the region, a global leader in the industry, can maintain and further its innovative capacity in this area of advanced manufacturing.

In 2008, Executive Director Elisabeth Reynolds co-authored a Brookings Institution report entitled, “Clusters and Competitiveness: A New Role for Stimulating Regional Economies”. The report outlined a strategy for linking, aligning and leveraging federal resources around regional cluster development. The Obama Administration has since adopted many of the recommendations.

The Local Innovation Systems project, an international multi-year research project completed in 2005, looked at the role of universities in helping develop the capabilities of local firms to take up new technological and market knowledge and to apply it effectively. The findings draw on studies of innovation-enabled industrial change in twenty-two locations in six countries including both high-tech and economically less favored regions as well as both mature and new industries.