Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Lost in Translation? Building Science and Innovation City Strategies in Australia and the UK

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Lost in Translation? Building Science and Innovation City Strategies in Australia and the UK

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In the current context of globalisation and the development of the so-called 'knowledge economy', there has been growing interest in both policy-making and academic circles in two inter-related phenomena: policies on knowledge production and exploitation between universities, business and government; and policies to promote localised innovation systems. The first consists of policy measures which focus on the creation, transfer and commercialisation of knowledge, most notably through the introduction of measures to ensure that there is a flow from centres of knowledge creation, such as universities and public sector research agencies, to centres of economic application largely, though not exclusively, in firms (Bozeman 2000; Laredo & Mustar 2001; Thune 2007). The resulting regime has been claimed to have a new mode of knowledge production, new entrepreneurial actors (the entrepreneurial university), and a novel 'triple helix' form of university-industry-government inter-relationship (Gibbons et al. 1994; Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff 1997). This model proposes a more prominent role for universities in innovation within the economy, higher levels of collaboration among universities, industries and governments, with innovation policy an outcome of interaction among these institutional spheres rather than a government prescription, and that each partner 'takes the role of the other' so for example an entrepreneurial university takes on some of the traditional roles of industry and government (Etzkowitz & Klofsten 2005).

The second phenomenon has been a renewed interest in localised innovation, as exemplified by firm clusters, regional innovation systems and the concept of 'city-regions' (Porter 1998; Cooke 2002; de la Mothe & Mallory 2006). Cluster policies have been adopted by policy-makers at several levels of government in order to foster localised innovation and economic development and most have involved attempts to strengthen the links between industry, universities and other knowledge producing institutions (Gunasekara 2006; Charles 2007).

Particular emphasis has been placed on the idea of the city or city-region as a 'natural' scale for economic interaction, and the recognition that knowledge infrastructure is typically concentrated in cities. With the knowledge economy focusing policymaking attention increasingly on knowledge-based services as well as high tech industry, the city-region (defined as the city and its immediate zone of influence) is seen as the driver of national and regional/state economies. Policy tools available at the city-region scale include provision of new physical spaces to host and encourage activities which translate academic knowledge into commercial activity, and broader efforts to use the cultural renaissance of the 'city' as an 'attractor' for the so-called 'creative classes' (Florida 2002) and other human capital required to 'energise' translational activity.

As a consequence the traditional locus of policy for science and innovation at the national scale has been extended to other levels of government and new governance relationships have emerged to oversee new sub-national, and indeed supranational, policies (Charles et al. 2004). At a subnational scale, regional, metropolitan and State or provincial governments have developed an interest in innovation policies and focused on the stimulation of territorially defined innovation systems as a key element of economic development strategies. Indeed, the growing emphasis on science-based industries has led to a new focus at sub-national levels of policy on investments in science infrastructure, whether it be large scale equipment, such as synchrotrons, or smaller infrastructure in university research centres or even scientific talent-attraction funds, much of this concentrated in cities. At the same time, in Europe, we see the increased engagement of the EU in science and innovation policy, with EU policymakers often working directly with cities and regions to promote innovation strategies and to promote international collaboration among cities and regions in transferring the experiences of innovation policy. …

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