”What are the best strategies to stimulate Science Based Regional Innovation?”
This was the main question raised at the 9th Annual Conference of The Technopolicy Network.
The conference, held in the innovative cities of Leuven and Genk from 17-19 September, was attended by numerous stakeholders in the field of regional innovation and collaboration.
From across the globe interested parties participated to expand their network, learn from one another and share their experiences.
Prof. Rosa, who came all the way from Brazil, stated that he has visited every conference since the founding of The Technopolicy Network.
‘Each time I pick up one or two new ideas and implement these in my own organisation’.
The conference was chaired by Richard Bendis. In addition to chairing the event he also enlightened the participants with his experience in entrepreneurship, leadership and the management of innovation.
The speaker to open the conference was Prof. Deketelaere. As Secretary-General of the League of Europe Research Universities (LERU) he pointed out the lack of collaboration between universities in Europe, which limits their potential to innovate. He, amongst other speakers, illustrated that the cluster- and research-systems in Europe are fragmented
and not well connected. His organisation tries to overcome this challenge by connecting top universities with other universities.
Dr. Tidona, from BioRN, thinks that joining the strongest players in Europe at their roots might overcome the fragmentation
of clusters. An example of this can be found in the Health Axis Europe, in which Leuven, Heidelberg and Cambridge collaborate, to optimize their innovative capabilities.
Prof. Feser of the University of Illinois and University of Manchester highlighted another problem; The stakeholders in the triple helix should define their own strategies more clearly and invest in the ability to develop these strategies.
He discussed his work on a new theory that focuses on interregional connections and the role of dealmakers. This helps regional policymakers in understanding the forces in their local economy better and improves their strategic planning capabilities.
The CEO of KIC-InnoEnergy, Mr. Schuring, pointed out that the problem in Europe is that there is a lack of funding in applied product development; money is mostly spend on basic research. Prof. Bhumiratana, President of the King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi in Thailand, confirmed this thought by stating that the focus amongst scientists at universities is too much on publications and not enough on practical applications of science.
Dr. Hinoul of KU Leuven R&D, stressed the point of changing the mindset of European researchers, making it more like the dynamic entrepreneurial culture in the U.S.. This would stimulate the economy a lot. He also explained several strategies to create strong, competitive knowledge-based regions. An important fact that policymakers should keep in mind is that not everything one needs to create such a region, has to be found in that region. This idea of ‘new globalism’ supports collaborations between regions to create more competitiveness.
To summarize, the lessons to take away from this conference are:
- Focus on focus.
- Focus on applications, not on publications.
- Connect the strongest players and help others.
- Create a dynamic entrepreneurial mind-set.
- Determine the scientific spear point of a region and create competitiveness with it.