PeripheRIS undertakes research to enable institutional support for innovation policy in European peripheries, with a focus on policy implementation. For more than a decade since the financial crisis, uneven development in Europe has intensified, while the economic, social and political problems faced by peripheral regions have become widely recognized. Yet, under the EU's regional and innovation policies, peripheries are meant to compete with core regions to be economically sustainable - a process which relies on innovation as a key driver of economic growth and prosperity. While it has been suggested for some time that institutions play a role in peripheral development, serious inquiry into institutional aspects of regional innovation systems (RIS) has only recently been sparked. PeripheRIS focuses on the interplay between institutions and actors for the innovation-driven, sustainable transition of peripheral regions in Europe, bridging institutional and entrepreneurial strands of RIS as they unfold in complex institutional-entrepreneurial relations. In peripheries, these can be reduced to key personalities on both sides, and the focus turns to the actors at work within the system.
The research aims to uncover mechanisms of institutional support to innovation. From his placement at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Bradley Loewen will develop a case study on the innovation system of Italy's South Tyrol region for comparison to prior cases in Central and Eastern Europe. A mixed methods approach is adopted based on qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (causal process tracing) methods. The cases will support theory-building in the area of evolutionary economic geography, to overcome the need for deep contextualization in future case research, which is a limitation for policy learning. In addition to academic outputs, the project will result in a practical guidebook with recommendations to local and regional governments for supporting innovation in peripheries.
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