The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Building a Competitive Regional Innovation Environment – the Regional Development Platform Method as a Tool for Regional Innovation Policy

Vesa Harmaakorpi

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Helsinki University of Technology, for public examination and debate in the Auditorium at Fellmanni Congress Centre (Lahti, Finland) on the 23rd of April, 2004, at 13 o'clock noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-7011-0)   [1045 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-7010-2)


The study focuses on building a regional innovation policy tool that takes into account the demands of the present techno-economic and socio-institutional paradigms. Regions are seen to be strongly dependent on their history. The competitiveness of a region is based on the regional resource configurations. In a turbulent world these resource configurations have to be renewed over time setting demands for regional dynamic capabilities. This study emphasises five regional dynamic capabilities: leadership capability, visionary capability, learning capability, networking capability and innovative capability.

The study takes a holistic point of view in assessing the regional innovation environment. This environment is seen as a system of innovation networks and institutions located within a region, with regular and strong internal interaction that promotes innovativeness and is characterised by embeddedness. Innovations are increasingly seen to be the results of non-linear processes deeply embedded in normal social and economic activities. The non-linear and interactive nature of the innovation processes sets new demands for social cohesion in the regional innovation system.

The new era is crying out for innovation policy tools that foster the visionary, leadership, networking and learning activities in the process of designing and implementing innovation policies and strategies. In this study a new tool for regional innovation policy – the Regional Development Platform Method – is designed and tested. The main aspects behind the creation of this innovation policy tool are: (i) understanding the effects of the changing techno-economic-paradigm on the regional innovation environment (ii) understanding the phenomena of regional path-dependency and agglomeration, (iii) avoiding regional lock-ins, (iv) defining competitive regional resource configurations, (v) creating multi-actor innovation networks to exploit the resource configurations, (vi) enhancing the absorptive capacity of the innovation networks, (vii) creating sufficiently creative social capital, (viii) promoting regional dynamic capabilities and (ix) understanding the multi-level governance environment in forming innovation policies and strategies. The Regional Development Platform Method is tested in the Lahti region in Finland. The experiences of the policy tool have been encouraging and it has crucially influenced the most recent strategies and programmes in the region.

Keywords: regional innovation systems, innovation policies, regional competitiveness, learning systems, networking, social capital, network leadership

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© 2004 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26