Knowledge networking regions in Europe, 2007


Observations for policy

Knowledge networking regions are concentrated in the centre of Europe as well as in the Nordic countries. The overall picture provides evidence of a clear core-periphery pattern in the geographical distribution of the regions that in one way or another rely in external sources of knowledge for the development of innovation.

Policy context

To strengthen EU’s position in science, key players in European R&D need to cooperate more. This relates to both the Europe 2020 strategy but also the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizons 2020). The networking of R&D actors with other players in close proximity but also the rest of Europe becomes increasingly important, also for the implementation of smart growth following the Europe 2020 strategy.

Map interpretation

Knowledge networking regions rely on external sources of knowledge, but also on interactive learning. This knowledge diffusion can take place through different patterns, including: (a) informal interactions and unintentional relations arising from unforeseen encounters between actors tied into close spatial proximity (henceforth ‘informal linkages’), and (b) formal, intentional relations based on coordinated and well-defined linkages between actors who might or might not be tied into close spatial proximity (‘formal linkages’).

Knowledge networking regions are mostly to be found in the EU15 and EFTA countries. In fact, there is a strong territorial concentration from Scandinavia to Northern Italy and ramifications to Austria and Slovenia.

Clustering regions show above average values for inter-firm interactions located in regions close to each other and below average for well-established inter-firm interactions that result from network mechanisms. They are mainly regions that belong to the EU15 and that are close to the core regions that are both spatially and non-spatially specialised.

Globalisation regions are characterised by below average values for spatial linkages and above average values for a-spatial linkages. These comprise among others Berlin, Paris and London. It seems that some of the capital regions in EU15 relate to other regions through citations, inflows and co-patents more intensively than to knowledge located more closely to them.

Regions showing low values for both indicators are non-interactive regions. Such regions are mainly to be found in EU12 and some specific regions in South European, i.e. the whole of Portugal and Greece, most Spain except the North-East area, and the South of Italy.

Concepts and methods

To identify knowledge networking regions two synthetic indicators were built. The first tries to capture the ‘spatial knowledge linkages’, and the second measures the ‘a-spatial knowledge linkages’. Therefore, knowledge networking regions are those regions that have values for both indicators higher than the average.

The level for ‘a-spatial linkages’ is measured by means of external R&D, external patent applications and external budget to the Framework Programme of the European Union. As proxy for ‘a-spatial linkages’ the map uses the following indicators: co-patents, inflows of inventors, and citations made to patents from other regions, regardless if they are neighbouring regions or not.