46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
A recent study for the Danish government has identified innovation as one of the major drivers of regional competitiveness in Denmark. Innovation and the capacity to innovate are crucial factors in the development of a firm and its ability to adapt to changes in the external environment. In particular changes in the international production system with increasing out-sourcing of physical production from Western Europe has highlighted the need for an alternative economic base in many regions. As a consequence, attention has been on the role of innovation policy in economic policy in general and regional development in particular. The aim of this paper is to analyze the interaction between the actors in the innovative environment (i.e. the firm, advisory and research institution) and the external environment as a part of a broader network of innovative relations covering intra-firm as well as extra-firm relations and processes. The project covers the following aspects: • In the first part of the paper concepts and policies of innovation are discussed with regard to their ability to move the economy toward higher growth. • The second section provides a brief overview of regional convergence and disparities in Denmark in the last decade, and compares with the trends in a broader European perspective. • The next section summarizes the findings of a recent study of the regional system of innovation in Western Denmark, and provides a critical review of the role of innovation in the process of economic restructuring in the perspective of growing internationalization in many branches. Based on this assessment the future perspectives of regional policy in Denmark are discussed on the background of the ongoing reorganization of local and regional government in general, and the introduction of five regional growth-forums in particular.