CORDIS - EU research results

Cross-Border Regional Innovation System Integration

Final Report Summary - CRISI (Cross-Border Regional Innovation System Integration)

This project set out to provide insightful knowledge on cross-border regional cooperation in terms of how different types of proximity and levels of integration of cross-border regional innovation systems impact on knowledge transfer mechanisms and levels of innovativeness. More specifically, the study addressed the following objectives: 1) it compared the effects of different types of proximity on knowledge transfer and innovativeness in cross-border regions, 2) it developed a methodology for measuring the levels of integration of cross-border regional innovation systems and 3) it evaluated the success of ENPI cross-border cooperation projects in facilitating cross-border knowledge flows and innovation in the field of tourism.

The study utilised both quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as both comparative EU-level data and in depth case study materials (statistical, survey and interview data). Firstly, the project conducted three literature reviews/desk studies that concentrated on 1) border region studies as a subfield of regional studies and 2) the cross-border regional innovation systems literature, its conceptual backgrounds and earlier empirical evidence and 3) policy suggestions resulting from this research. These studies underline the importance of border regions as a distinct and significant field of regional studies and the importance of border region studies for the sustainable socio-economic development of border regions. Additionally, the research pinpointed the most severe contemporary research gaps in the empirical applications of cross-border regional innovation systems, guiding the work on the subsequent research objectives and providing further insights into (innovation) policy developments in border regions.

Secondly, the project suggested a framework for empirically validating the concept of cross-border regional innovation systems and measuring their integration processes. This framework was further tested and developed in two separate case studies and in a wider comparative study. These studies demonstrate and highlight the feasibility of the empirical framework.

Thirdly, the project extended the notions of cross-border cooperation into two empirical studies with secondary data sources focusing on 1) the impact of the enlargement of the European Union on scientific cross-border collaboration and the success of the European Research Area in achieving the goal of a common internal market for research within the European Union and 2) the selection of cross-border innovation cooperation partners. The results show that joining the European Union has had a significant positive impact on the volume of cross-border co-publishing between the established (EU-15) and new European Union member states. The same applies to the cross-border publication intensity between the new member states. This is arguably due to the improved financial resources that accompanies membership. This signals at least a partial success of the European Research Area in promoting a common internal market in research within the European Union. Of course, when it comes to firm-to-firm partnerships, several factors (such as geographical distance to the border) still influence the likelihood of participating in cross-border innovation collaboration.

Fourthly, the project suggested 1) survey metrics for collecting and analysing primary firm-level data with the aim of producing relevant measures for disentangling the impact of the various dimensions of proximity (geographical, institutional, social, cognitive etc.) on regional cross-border innovation cooperation; and 2) methods for illustrating cross-border cooperation networks with tools developed within social network analyses. Pilot study material was collected from firms and organisations situated in three different cross-border regions to demonstrate the feasibility of the metrics and tools.

Finally, the project concluded with a qualitative study on the success factors of ENPI funded cross-border collaboration projects (in the field of tourism) in the context of joint innovation and knowledge transfer. The results pinpoint several pivotal suggestions (lessons learned) for practitioners and policy-makers to take into account when planning and executing cross-border projects.

As a result, the project made an original theoretical and empirical contribution, through being the first substantial empirical study of the theoretical underpinnings of cross-border regional innovation systems, their levels of integration and knowledge transfer and of joint innovation in cross-border cooperation projects. These original contributions are highly policy relevant as the long term success of cross-border regions depends on collective efforts to further integrate on a trans-regional level in order to develop common innovation systems. With the proposed empirical framework, it is now possible for policy-makers in cross-border regions to monitor their integration processes, which would help the regions to better understand their trajectories in the context of developing common cross-border regional innovation systems.

Additionally, the project collected a list of policy recommendations for facilitating the integration of cross-border regional innovation systems. The study also provided an analysis of `best practices´ in the context of tourism related cross-border cooperation projects. The lessons learned from these studies are relevant not only for the case study regions but also for other European cross-border regions and practitioners engaged in cross-border cooperation projects. The results also underline the positive impacts of the European Union/European Research Area on cross-border scientific cooperation.

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