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Popular Science: Towards innovations with knowledge bases

The latest research reveals that “knowledge bases” have a significant influence on the performance of companies and even regions. This stems from the theory that the process of innovation can have different forms in different sectors (or even in a single company). Now, we distinguish among three types of knowledge bases: analytical (exploring of scientific frontiers in subjects like nano/bio-technology), synthetic (applying of scientific knowledge in industry) and symbolic (creative industry – design, fashion, film). Viktor Květoň and Vojtěch Kadlec from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development tried to shed a light on the development and spatial pattern of those three knowledge bases in EU regions and their influence on the innovation process.

An ability to create innovations is an important factor of the competitiveness of regions. Their form and creation can be very variable. The process of innovations is affected by the presence of knowledge bases and their combinations, for example, as a collaboration of companies.

It follows from previous research that the most developed regions in Europe have a balanced structure of knowledge bases. Therefore, the authors identified the structure of knowledge bases in European regions based on the numbers of employees in certain occupations belonging to the bases. In the next step, they explore time changes and statistical relations to innovative performance in the regions.

The authors revealed that the knowledge bases in the most developed regions of Western Europe are the most balanced and saw no significant changes during this time. On the other hand, the regions in post-socialist countries have an unbalanced structure with a lot of changes.

Analytic knowledge base is the strongest in North-western Europe. Source: Authors of the article.

North-western Europe dominates in the analytical base. The regions of Scandinavia, northern Germany, Benelux and the United Kingdom have a tradition of research at universities and companies, as well. Such activities are concentrated in the core regions and cities in south and Eastern Europe. The synthetic base is strongest in Central Europe and its surroundings: Germany, Czechia, Austria, eastern France, northern Italy and partly in Poland, Denmark and Sweden. The symbolic base copies the analytical spatial pattern.

In Western Europe, in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Netherlands in particular, they have all three knowledge bases in balance, or the analytical is slightly bigger, and the whole system is stable. In such regions companies and universities collaborate together, and thus they have better results in innovations. On the other hand, in Central and Eastern Europe, the synthetic base dominates, and innovativeness is lower.

The study shows that the analytical knowledge base is a key for competitiveness. Changes in the knowledge base structure in regions are long-term issues; therefore today´s spatial pattern will have consequences in the future.

Květoň, V., & Kadlec, V. (2018). Evolution of knowledge bases in European regions: searching for spatial regularities and links with innovation performance. European Planning Studies, 26(7), 1366–1388. https://doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2018.1464128

Tomáš Janík

Published: Dec 24, 2018 09:20 AM

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