Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

The dynamics of S&T activities in the EU regions -characterization, cohesion and convergence - a quantitative analysis

The aim of this part of the project was to characterize the dynamics of the scientific and technological activities in the EU regions, in their relationship to economic growth.

To achieve that, a regional data base has been built, recording GDP per capita, scientific publications and European patents per capita, measured at two dates for the 15 EU countries split down into 445 ‘regions’; in addition, for each region, the number of patents with local, national, European, extra-European (USA, Japan, other) linkage has been recorded [each patent has an inventor, located in a certain region (region A), where the research has been done, and an assignee (owner), a firm which can be independent, or the subsidiary of another firm ; in any case, there is an ultimate assignee (firm) in term of financial control, located in region A (local linkage), or in another region of the country (national linkage), or in another EU country (EU linkage), or outside the EU (extra-EU linkage)]. The research has consisted in preparing this database and performing a number of analyses.

1. Economic, scientific and technological activities of the EU regions - characterization and typology.

First, various comparisons among regions and classifications are made, leading to an overview of the activities of the EU regions:
- Two regions perform more than 4 % of the S&T activities of the EU: Paris and London (ranks 1 and 2), which are the capital cities of geographically centralized large European nations, with 6 and 7 million inhabitants each ;

- Then, between 1,9 and 3,1 %, come 6 German regions (ranks 3 to 8) corresponding to the large cities of this geographically decentralized country (regions between 2,6 and 5,3 million inhabitants) (Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Koln, Karlsruhe);

- Between 1,0 % and 1,6 % of total EU S&T activities, there is a third group, made of 13 regions (ranks 9 to 21), which consist of the following:

- 5 capital cities (or economic capital city) of middle-sized (in terms of S&T) European countries: Sweden, Spain, The Netherlands, Finland and Italy,

- 5 middle to large sized S&T active German cities,

- 3 'campus - regions’: Cambridge and Oxford, in the UK and Essonne (Orsay-Saclay-Vallee de Chevreuse-Evry campus) in France (for clarity of presentation, we considered Essonne in this group, although its rank is 22).

This descriptive characterization is followed by a typology of the 445 regions into 4 and 8 clusters ('types of regions'). The stylised pattern of the EU regions - in 4 groups - regarding GDP per capita, scientific and technological activities show that, broadly speaking, there is correlation between GDP per capita, scientific and technological activities density. Nevertheless, at more detailed scale, the picture is more complex, and the classification in 8 groups shows three sub-sets of regions with patterns worth noticing (no science, no technology, no science nor technology).

2. Economic, scientific and technological activities of the EU regions - cohesion and convergence issues

Then, cohesion issues are addressed through an analysis of the concentration of GDP per capita, of the scientific and technological activities, at EU-15 (inter-country) level, at intra-country level and at the overall EU-445 inter-regional level. A dynamic analysis is performed, allowing addressing the question of the convergence and divergence among countries and regions.

Concerning concentration of GDP per capita, scientific and technological activities:
- GDP per capita, at European (EU-445 level) is significantly more evenly distributed among regions than scientific and technological activities;
- Scientific activities are significantly eventlier distributed among countries (at EU-15 level) than technological activities;
- But within each EU country (intra-country concentration), the opposite is true: the technological activities are in general more evenly distributed than the scientific
- In total, at EU-445 level, scientific and technology activities have a broadly similar concentration index.

The overall view of cohesion regarding scientific and technological activities show that the EU-445 convergence rate of scientific and technological activities is of the same order of magnitude ; but the two components (inter and intra - country) have different relative weights in the two cases and country-specific situations can be observed.

The analysis of the dynamics of S&T activities in the EU regions shows that there is a convergence towards the European mean on all three parameters of GDP per capita, scientific and technological density per capita - this convergence being quite slow, the rate of the closing of the gap being of the order of 1 % per year for each one of the variables.

The other aspect of the dynamic analysis is that strong regions with relative decrease in science, tend to also to have a relative decrease - although a little less strong – in technology. Conversely, less developed regions having a positive trend in science consolidating an already significant position, show an even more positive and remarkable trend in technological activities. Finally, laggard regions in terms of scientific activities are still showing no progress in technology, even though some positive trend in science can be identified.

3. International technological linkages of the EU regions through the localization strategies of the multinational firms (MNFs) - characterization and typology
Now, the regions are characterized, in addition, by the geographic pattern of their 'technological linkages' (see above).

A description of the linkages of the regions is made, identifying the top 20 European regions in volume of patents controlled by European, North American and Japanese MNFs (1996).

From there, the profiles of the technological linkages of the 445 EU regions are identified, trough a clustering (typology) in 6 groups: 4 kinds of profiles are characterized by the dominance of one geographical linkage (local, national, European, extra-European), one by the diversity of its linkages ('eclectic') and one by the inexistence of its technological activities.

4. The dynamics of the EU regions in relation to their technological linkages - cohesion and convergence issues

The technological linkages are related to the level and pattern of activities of the different regions. It appears that the relative importance of the foreign technological linkages is independent of the technological level of the region. The breakdown between European and extra-European linkages are also independent of the technological level of the region.

This being said, it also appears that there is a strong relationship between the scientific and technological development of the regions and the profile of their technological linkages:
- The most developed regions tend to have the profiles 'eclectic' (35 %), local (30 %) and extra-European (20 %),

- Less developed regions tend to have the profiles European (25 %), national (20 %), 'no technology' (20 %) and extra-European (15 %).

Regarding the foreign technological linkages, four results can be outlined:
- In terms of geographic distribution, at EU-15 level (between countries), the concentration of foreign-linked technological activities is stable ; the intra-country concentration decreases somewhat ; in total, at EU-445 level, the trend is a slow decrease of concentration, like for scientific and technological activities in general. The situation for country to country is quite variable. At EU-15 and EU-445 levels, the geographic dynamics of foreign-linked technological activities is not significantly different than that of technological activities in general.

- The situation is quite different when considering the dynamics in terms of the distribution among the groups of regions, there is a strong divergence process at play :
-- The most developed regions, having the highest density of foreign-linked technological activities, are also those with the highest rate of increase of such activities,

-- Less developed regions, are, at a large majority, having a slower than average development of foreign technological linkages.

- The profiles characterized by international linkages - both European and extra-
European - are those spreading the most among regions.

- The regions with profile 'extra-European', tend to have a particularly good record in technological activities growth.

5. Characterization of the Framework Programme activities of the EU regions
Finally, the activities of the EU regions in terms of participation to the FP are analysed, relating these activities to their scientific and technological activities, in order to address through another entry point, the question of cohesion among EU regions.

More specifically, the top 20 EU regions in number of participations in the Framework Programme, and the top 28 less developed and most participating EU regions in the Framework Programme, are identified.

But one cannot understand the technological activities at regional level without considering explicitely of the firms - and particularly the multinational firms (MNFs) - of which they are a result. Technological activities are part of two dynamics simultaneously, and after having examined the geographic dimension, we now turn towards the institutional dimension - that is the firm's logic and strategy.

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Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques
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