Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED Programme)

International Workshop on Innovation Clusters and Interregional Competition, 12. - 13. November 2001


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Kiel Institute of World Economics, Regional Economics Department
Institute for Regional Research, Kiel University
in Co-operation with the Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Programme of the OECD, Paris

Both firms, keen to improve their competitiveness, and governments, keen to exploit new sources of economic growth, need to understand how innovation works in order to better stimulate it. There are many indications that, increasingly, regional growth and innovation seem to emerge from innovative complexes of firms and organisations. It is in these geographically concentrated networks or 'clusters', that regional value-added and employment growth are realized, the most prominent examples being California's Silicon Valley or Boston's Route 128. Regional governments around the world have - admittedly at a lower scale and aspiration level - tried to resemble part of these success stories, entering in a heavy competition for mobile capital and highly skilled labor. At the center of interest are new growth sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, environmental technology and multimedia.
The aim of the workshop is bringing together some of the world's leading experts in the field of innovation research and regional economics in order to improve our knowledge on how regional innovation clusters work and how policymakers (particularly on a sub-national level) can grasp the growth opportunities that the above named industries with their inherent tendency for clustering provide.

The workshop programme is subdivided into three complementary parts. In part I the conceptual foundations of the cluster concept as well as of interregional competition will be outlined and critically discussed. In part II empirical evidence on the determinants of regional growth and the role of knowledge spillovers and clustering in the growth process is presented. In this section it will become clear what we currently know and what we don't know - but should know to give reliable policy advice. Part III deals with the policy response. As innovation policy is (and probably has to be) performed at different layers of government we discuss supranational (EU), national (Germany) and regional strategies. Moreover, since educational issues are of major importance, we also address the question of the educational challenge for cluster formation.

The workshop shall help us to better understand such issues such as whether regional governments can exploit clusters for enhancing their competitive advantage, what role path dependencies play in this context, how to create critical masses, what kinds of clusters are favourable and what governments of peripheral or rural areas can do to improve the economic performance of their region.

For more information, please contact Alistair Nolan, LEED Programme:


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