Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED Programme)

Report: Knowledge networks and their impact on new and small firms in local economies (Italy-Germany)


‌‌OPENLOC report cover



Publication Date:
31 Jan 2012


The case studies of the Autonomous Province of Trento and Magdeburg

New and small firms can be important engines of job creation and local development when they identify and exploit entrepreneurial opportunities. We live in an economy more and more characterised by open innovation methods, where new companies and SMEs are benefitting from innovations, technological and non technological available on the market or from other companies and organisations part of their networks. Knowledge networks, understood as a three-component construction of (i) knowledge generation, (ii) knowledge transfer, and (iii) knowledge application, can play a crucial role in boosting companies performance. As many OECD researches shows, there is often a major networking gap, however, between knowledge sources in universities and research organisations and industry exploitation in new spin-off enterprises and SMEs. The analysis of the actors of the knowledge networks and the way they behave and interact with other component inside and outside the networks is a fundamental support to local policy making in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The OECD LEED Programme in cooperation with the University of Trento has prepared this paper to analyse in deep the behaviour of knowledge networks in two specific local contexts: the Autonomous Province of Trento in Italy and the Magdeburg Province in Germany.

The aim of this research project is to analyse the relevance of knowledge networks to entrepreneurship and the growth of young and small firms, the role of the different components and their interplay for network effectiveness, impeding and favouring factors, and the role of public policy.


Table of contents

  • Executive Summary
    • Trentino case study
    • Theoretical assumptions and an overview of the main reports on the issue
    • Evolution of the province’s research and innovation policies
    • Trentino knowledge network: Social and economic embedding
    • Trentino knowledge networks: Organisational structure
    • Knowledge networks: The trentino business perspective
    • Conclusions: Ideas for innovation policies
    • List of the interviews with the experts
    • Bibliography
    • Annex I: the questionnaire
    • Magdeburg case study
    • State of Saxony-Anhalt
    • The economic region of Magdeburg
    • Industry description
    • Analysis of expert interviews
    • Company survey
    • Further analysis
    • Implications
    • Bibliography



For more information please contact Alessandra Proto at the OECD Secretariat.


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