- The variety of innovation patterns excludes a ‘one size fits all’ policy to innovation
- The European science-based area is mainly located in Germany, and applied science regions are mainly located in Northern and Central Europe
- Regions with a focus on smart technological applications are mostly metropolitan areas in the older EU Member States
- Regions with smart and creative diversification are mainly located in the Mediterranean countries, but also in agglomerations within newer EU Member States
Observations for policy
The variety of innovation patterns explains the failure of a ‘one size fits all’ policy to innovation, like the thematically and /or regionally neutral and generic R&D incentives. Innovation patterns typical for each specific area have to be identified. These insights can facilitate the development of innovation policies. However, to move in this direction, the measurement of efficiency and effectiveness of each pattern of innovation on growth is necessary.
The objective of smart growth as advocated by the Europe 2020 Strategy and EU Cohesion Policy is strongly linked to innovation. Often this is equalled with the number of patents or R&D activities or expenditure.
ESPON research reveals a regional diversity as regards to types of innovation and approaches to innovation. This differentiated understanding can contribute to further develop the idea of ‘EU smart specialisation strategy’ within the framework of EU Innovation and Cohesion Policies.
The map shows a large variety of possible innovation patterns. None of these patterns is by definition superior to another. Each territorial pattern may provide an efficient use of research and innovation activities generating growth.
- ‘European science-based area’ describes regions, which are strong in producing knowledge and innovation in the field of general purpose technology. They have high R&D endowment and science-based local knowledge, and a high degree of knowledge coming from regions with a similar knowledge base. These regions are mostly located in Germany, with the addition of Vienna, Brussels, and Southern Denmark;
- ‘Applied science area’ comprises regions which are strong in knowledge production, R&D and applied science, with a high degree of knowledge coming from regions with a similar knowledge base. This type of regions is mostly located in central and northern Europe, namely in Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Estonia and some capital regions in other countries;
- ‘Smart technological application area’ characterises regions with both high product innovation rates and creativity, which helps to translate external basic science and applied science knowledge into innovation. They have a limited degree of local applied science and R&D endowment. This group includes mostly agglomerations in EU15, such as the Northern parts of Spain, Northern Italy, the French Alpine regions, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sweden and the UK;
- ‘Smart and creative diversification area’ describes regions with low degrees of local diversified applied knowledge and internal innovation capacity. At the same time, they have high degrees of local skills, creativity and entrepreneurship, also drawing external knowledge. These regions are mainly located in Mediterranean countries, but also in Eastern Europe, including Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland and Czech Republic;
- ‘Imitation area’ comprises regions with low knowledge and innovation intensity, entrepreneurship, and creativity. However, they have high attractiveness and innovation potentials. Most of these regions are located in newer EU Member States, such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, but also in several regions of Italy, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
Concepts and methods
An empirical analysis has been applied to identify whether the territorial patterns of innovation actually exists. Based on a list of indicators meant to cover all aspects of the complex knowledge-innovation chain, a cluster analysis has been performed in order to identify the existence of innovative behaviours that could be associated to the territorial patterns of innovation previously described.