Regional Innovations: an introduction to concepts, practices and politics

Innovations is a policy buzz word and used more or less daily within the political debate. Innovations are regarded as fundamental for achieving economic, social and ecological sustainability. This booklet is an introduction guide to the concept, practices and politics of innovations with focus on its relevance for regional development.

Innovations are expected to generate new firms and employment opportunities, increased competitiveness, and contribute growth, in Sweden and elsewhere. They are also perceived as crucial for handling climate change, resource scarcity and demographical challenges such as an ageing population and increased migration in Europe. But what is an innovation? How and where are innovations created? And how can regional innovation polices be formulated and implemented in a globalizing world? These are some of the key questions of this booklet, which also highlights concepts such as eco-innovation, social innovations, and smart specialisation.

An open and inclusive definition innovations are currently being emphasised as for example in the recently published Swedish Innovation Strategy. Innovations are created by people and generates new values. An innovation can be anything from new technical products or service processes to a significantly improved business models or new forms of organisational and institutional arrangements. This conceptualisation of innovations creates opportunities and challenges policy making. Amongst other things, it implies that regions need position themselves in relation to other regions nationally and internationally, and simultaneously develop context specific innovation strategies and priorities.

The booklet offers an introduction to current discourse on innovation by reviewing a selection of essential policy documents from leading international and national organisations such as OECD, EU and Swedish national authorities. It does not offer a new theory on innovation or suggestions on how to innovation policies should be formulated, but it provides an conceptual overview, practical thematic and regional examples on innovations and innovation policies.