New innovation briefings

7 01 2008

NESTA have recently published two Policy Briefings on Innovation goes global and Making innovative places:

Innovation goes global examines two converging trends: first, that the world is increasingly interlinked and interdependent, and second, that the balance of economic power is shifting away from the traditional ‘West’ towards countries such as China, India and Brazil. While the capacity to innovate is becoming increasingly important as traditional sources of competitive advantage become eroded, globalisation is also changing the way innovation happens. The skilled workforce is becoming more mobile, businesses may share knowledge with external partners as well as internationalising R&D activities.

As a consequence, deriving value from innovation increasingly depends on absorbing ideas as much as creating them, and centres of excellence are becoming more rare as they become more excellent. To make the most of this opportunity, the UK must focus its efforts on areas where it has a true competitive advantage and strive to maintain its status as a crossroads in the global network of knowledge.  This means supporting universities and businesses to collaborate internationally, and ensuring that the benefits from those activities reach the whole of the UK’s economy and society.

 Making innovative places develops the theme that place matters to innovation. Certain locations with a reputation for being “innovative places” attract the brightest and most creative people to produce new ideas and ways of working.  The briefing summarises findings from several larger studies that examine how to promote innovation in both urban and rural settings. These studies note that the presence of scale and choice, and local links with specialised innovation networks tends to drive local innovative capacity in cities.  Rural areas are less likely to have these advantages, so rural communities need to consider specialised approaches and also consider building closer linkages with urban areas. The research also suggests that regional agencies need to actively take part in a “regional innovation journey” that enables a region to create major change through a series of small achievable steps which build local innovation capacity. The report reviews typical stages in this process and offers advice on responding to the inevitable challenges that arise in the process.

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