I Engaging in regional cross-border collaboration for innovation

Innovating beyond borders

To be globally competitive, regions need to take into account the dual phenomena of increasing international linkages and the persisting importance of geographic proximity. However, even when innovation actors are in proximity, the presence of an international border is a barrier for collaboration, one that is increasing in recent years. For many regions, there are a number of reasons why collaborating with an international neighbour makes sense for both sides. For innovation purposes, the definition of the “functional” area for cross-border policy requires some assessment of both the innovation relationships that are (or could be) relevant, as well as the other functional ties and institutional arrangements. The definition should seek to avoid simply creating rigid new borders.

While international collaboration is increasingly part of the innovation process for firms, there nevertheless remains an important place-based dimension. Cross-border areas bring together firms, people and knowledge generation institutions that are in geographic proximity, albeit with an international border in between. While fitting policy to place can result in better economic outcomes, the definition of that place can be complicated. Even within the same country, collaboration across regions to support innovation-driven economic development is challenging. Regions compete to attract skilled workers and firms. Furthermore, it is much more difficult to illustrate the value of inter-regional collaboration for innovation policy, or the costs of non-collaboration, relative to other policy fields such as transport. When the complication of an international border is added, that inter-regional collaboration can be unwieldy to initiate and implement. This chapter considers:

  • • what innovation and globalisation trends make cross-border collaboration for regional innovation increasingly relevant
  • • for what reasons, and under what conditions, does it makes sense to collaborate with cross-border neighbours
  • • how can the cross-border area for innovation policy support be defined.
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