Geographia Polonica (1999) vol. 72, iss. 1

The significance of regional technology policy for local innovation networks in Germany - case studies from Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia

Chang Woon Nam

Geographia Polonica (1999) vol. 72, iss. 1, pp. 63-88 | Full text

The network characteristics are now considered of particular importance to innovation and technological change and to the growth prospects of regions. According to this idea, innovation is a process which results from various interactions among a number of actors in a given region. Such economic (and social) links can be considered 'intangible capital' that has durability, is created by means of an investment effort but deteriorates if not maintained. Although firms generally play the central role in these interactions, a network with other scientific and public institutions has significantly contributed to their R&D and innovation successes as well as to organisational change. Consequently, when analysing a regional innovation system, one should not only investigate the (horizontal and vertical) relations among firms but also the contacts with universities and other research institutions, as well as technology centres, which make the diffusion of technological know-how possible. Furthermore, the role of the government agencies, support companies and interest groups which provide the commercial, technical and information support, as well as of the financial lending bodies, should also be taken into account in the context of the regional innovation system. Apart from offering a critical review of already-existing theoretical and empirical research, this study introduces the present regional technology and R&D promotion policies in Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, and examines the distinctive characteristics of the local innovation systems, emphasising the interaction and networking among the major actors mentioned above. For these purposes, two areas - Landshut (in Bavaria) and Bochum (North Rhine-Westphalia) - are selected for case study.

Keywords: local innovation network, regional technology policy, Germany, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Landshut, Bochum

Chang Woon Nam, Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Poschinger Str. 5. 81679 Munich, Germany