Introduction and Methodology

On the 22 June 2012, the INTERREG IVC Joint technical Secretariat (JTS) launched the Thematic Programme Capitalisation that aims to enable all regions in Europe to exploit the knowledge capital gained from projects working on the same or similar topic. It focuses on the thematic content and not on the interregional cooperation process.

The mission is carried out by experts, who, for each of the 12 selected themes, analyse the projects’ features, results and identify their added value. The exercise is coordinated at programme level by the Joint Technical Secretariat (JTS) and the Information Points.

Thematic capitalisation means collecting, analysing and disseminating ‘theme-specific’ knowledge gained from projects working on the same topic. The insights and information generated by the capitalisation effort will be useful for the innovation policy community all around Europe. The capitalisation is aimed, however, in particular at a) decision-makers including politicians and their professional staff at local, regional, national and EU level, b) programme bodies including members of the Monitoring Committee, Managing Authority, Joint Technical Secretariat (JTS) and Information Points and c) the end-users (i.e. the people directly affected by the projects) and other policymakers and practitioners.

The objectives of the thematic capitalisation are to better exploit the knowledge generated by projects working on a similar theme for the benefit of local and regional authorities in Europe as well as to increase the visibility of the programme and its impact on the policymaking process at local, regional, national and European levels.

The systematic analysis of the projects aims to deliver the following results:

  • identified innovative approaches that could also be relevant to other regions in Europe
  • theme-specific policy recommendations for the national and the EU levels
  • possible synergies and mutual enrichment among the INTERREG IVC projects dealing with similar issues
  • projects links to related initiatives in other EU programmes
  • specific topic-related recommendations to the projects

Dr. Peter Heydebreck and Nils Gabrielsson of INNO AG are the assigned capitalisation experts for the INTERREG IVC projects under the theme ‘Innovation systems (triple helix & open innovation)’. The theme includes ten projects co-funded by the programme throughout the first to the fourth rounds of financing. More information on the respective projects can be found in chapter 3.1, as well as in the Annexe. This report presents the final analysis results based on an in-depth review of the projects.

1. Definition of theme-specific terms

  • 1.1 Innovation System
    • Innovation Systems, regional as well as national, are defined as follows:
      ... the network of institutions in the public and private sectors whose activities and interactions initiate, import, modify and diffuse new technologies.” (Freeman, 1987) (4)
      ... the elements and relationships which interact in the production, diffusion and use of new, and economically useful, knowledge ... and are either located within or rooted inside the borders of a nation state.” (Lundvall, 1992) (5)
      ... a set of institutions whose interactions determine the innovative performance ... of national firms.” (Nelson, 1993) (6)
      ... the (regional) national institutions, their incentive structures and their competencies, that determine the rate and direction of technological learning (or the volume and composition of change generating activities) in a country.” (Patel and Pavitt, 1994) (7)
      ... that set of distinct institutions which jointly and individually contribute to the development and diffusion of new technologies and which provides the framework within which governments form and implement policies to influence the innovation process. As such it is a system of interconnected institutions to create, store and transfer the knowledge, skills and artefacts which define new technologies.” (Metcalfe, 1995) (8)
  • 1.2 Good practice
    • A good practice is defined by INTERREG IVC as: “… an initiative (e.g. methodologies, projects, processes and techniques) undertaken in one of the programme’s thematic priorities which has already proved successful and which has the potential to be transferred to a different geographic area. Proved successful means when the good practice has already provided tangible and measurable results in achieving a specific objective.”
  • 1.3 Innovation policy
    • Innovation policy deals with promoting the development, diffusion, and efficient use of new products (e.g. goods and services) and processes and as such, follows one of two generic approaches: a laissez-faire or a systemic approach (Lundvall and Borrás, 2005). According to Moodysson & Nilsson (2011) the systemic approach, which is the presently most accepted model, originates in the contention that most policy fields need to be considered in terms of the extent to which they contribute to innovation. It is therefore not possible to fully understand innovation policy without also considering how it inter-relates with other policies like tax policy, education policy, financial policy, etc.
  • 1.4 Open innovation
    • Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. [This paradigm] assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology.” (Henry Chesbrough, Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm).

  • 1.5 (Innovation) Policy measure
    • According to PRO INNO Europe an innovation policy measure is defined as any activity that:

      - mobilises resources (financial, human, organisational) through publicly (co-) financed research and innovation programmes or initiatives; and/or
      - funds the generation or diffusion of information and knowledge (studies, road-mapping, technology diffusion activities, advisory services, public-private partnerships, etc.) in support of research and innovation activities; and/or
      - promotes an institutional process (legal acts, regulatory rules) designed to explicitly influence the undertaking of research and innovation by organisations.

      Moreover, a policy measure is normally implemented on an ongoing (multi-annual) basis, rather than being a one-off 'event' or a single ‘project’.

  • 1.6 Innovation system actor
    • Innovation System actors are primarily private enterprises, universities and public research institutes and the people within them. “Innovation and technology development are the result of a complex set of relationships among actors in the system, which includes enterprises, universities and government research institutes”. (9) Moodysson & Nilsson (2011) Liu and White (2001) distinguish between primary actors, secondary actors and institutions. Primary actors are those performing fundamental innovation functions. Secondary actors are organisations that affect the behaviour of or interaction between primary actors. Secondary actors may act directly, e.g. when public bodies establish policies and make decisions about sustainability in the public health care system it affects the way hospitals purchase products and services.

2. Approach and analytical framework

The information on which the analysis is based has been gathered through desk research drawing on, in particular, the projects’ applications forms, web-sites, reports, and face-to-face interviews with the projects’ Lead Partner representatives and, in some cases, also with other project partner representatives.

The findings presented in this report are divided into chapters. Chapter 1 presents the introduction and methodology. Chapter 2 outlines the European policy and programme context. Chapter 3 presents the main part of the report, including both the project level analysis and an aggregated analysis for the ten different projects. Finally, chapter 4 summarises the thematic capitalisation results (main findings) and presents key policy messages and conclusions. The report also incorporates Annexes with additional relevant information on the individual projects for the interested reader. 

Chapter 3 is the main part of the report as it addresses the core questions of the capitalisation exercise. These questions are:

  1. What are the common features / challenges / difficulties / successes among the projects of the same topic?
  2. In particular, do these projects have similar good practices in common? If yes, what are these good practices? Are they easily transferable to other regions? Should they be further disseminated for the benefit of other regions?
  3. Did the partner regions find different solutions to the same issue?
  4. Does one region have a particularly interesting or innovative practice or policy identified which would deserve to be made available to other regions in Europe?
  5. Has a project achieved a particular interesting result (e.g. in terms of good practices transfer or policies improved) which could be useful for the other projects in the same topic and more generally for other local/regional authorities dealing with that topic?
  6. Do the participating regions identify core pre-requisites for the successful implementation of their regional policy in the domain tackled?
  7. Depending on the extent of expert’s knowledge, are there possible synergies among the concerned projects and initiatives undertaken in other EU programmes?
  8. Based on the findings of the analysis, can specific recommendations be made to individual projects which may not be aware of important practices/ policies or which may be less advanced and experienced than other projects?
  9. Based on the answers to all the above questions, which overall lessons learnt/ policy recommendations can be drawn that could be useful for policymakers at regional, national and/or European levels?

For the purpose of analysis the capitalisation questions have been divided into three groups as shown in the figure below.

To answer these questions, an analytical framework has been designed, the purpose of which is to provide a common platform for addressing the nine capitalisation questions in a coherent way. Due to the projects’ diverse nature, a theoretical model that aims at making as much as possible a sound analysis of the different projects has been developed for the first three questions. Questions 4-7 are of a more subjective and relative nature and therefore the possibility of addressing them coherently depends more on the ability to assess comparative strengths, to assess contextual factors, to detect synergies between projects and to detect unfulfilled needs in regions’ policy portfolios. Finally, questions 8 & 9 represent the aggregated wisdom of the capitalisation exercise both at project and overall level. Despite the different nature of key questions and objectives, we will still try to outline, where possible, some points of reference for our findings.

  • 2.1 Analytical framework - Good Practice characteristics

    • The framework for addressing questions 1-3 is built on the following three pillars:

      1. Fundamental problems of innovation systems
      2. Functions of innovation systems
      3. Policy tools

      Fundamental problems of innovation systems

      An understanding of the underlying problems and challenges of the regional innovation system is the starting point for innovation policy development. Consequently, a thorough problem analysis must also be the foundation for the capitalisation on projects within the theme ‘Innovation systems (triple helix & Open Innovation)’.

      Three generic problems expected to interfere with the success of regional innovation systems are proposed in the literature: 1) lack of resources, 2) fragmentation and 3) lock-in effects (Isaksen 2001, Nauwelaers and Wintjes 2002, Tödtling and Trippl 2005). These problems can be related both to the functional (systemic) and structural (actor) dimensions of innovation and together form the table below where the three generic problems from a system and actor point of view are illustrated. After the analysis, the projects will be added to the table according to the challenges and problems they tackle.

      Problems and challengesFunctional dimension
      (system- focus)
      Structural dimension
      Lack of resources

      Poor performance

      Low demand-orientation. The actors do not focus on the assets that the innovation system needs most, or services are not of sufficient quality.

      Insufficient organisational power

      No resources. There are not enough players who can provide the innovation system with the necessary assets.


      Functional mismatch

      Actors do not know how to co-operate. Lack of coordination between different activities in a RIS results in Low/no synergies between the different actors.

      Structural / institutional mismatch

      Actors do not want to co-operate. The institutional framework (rules, legislation, regulations) is not suitable for all actors, which leads to actors mistrusting each other and therefore are reluctant to cooperate.


      Functional inertia

      Mafia-like systems. Shared values, norms and practices cause lock-in effects that hinder change and adaptation. In short, the system fails to bring new ideas and tools to the target groups.

      Structural inertia

      Closed systems. Lock-in effects caused by the innovation system and institutional structures. Lock-in effects are most frequent in smaller systems where organisational renewal may be slow. In larger or urban regions, this is often not the case.

      Functions provided by innovation systems

      The challenges can also be viewed with respect to the function(s) of the innovation system that the projects aim at strengthening. The functions of an innovation system are as follows (based on Moodysson 2011; Bergek et al. 2008b; Hekkert et al. 2007):

      Knowledge development and diffusionCreation of knowledge and facilitation of information and knowledge exchange.
      EntrepreneurshipCreation of new businesses
      Indirectly: experimenting with new products, identifying and testing new markets and opportunities, etc.
      System infrastructure creationDevelopment and maintenance of the system’s infrastructure, e.g. production plants, educational institutions etc. as well as non-physical infrastructure, e.g. educational institutes.
      Resource mobilisationAttracting and building resources (human, financial, complementary, etc.) relevant to the RIS.
      Market identification and formationIdentification of markets or market niches as well as stimulation of the formation of local markets.
      LegitimationInternally: Creating coherence, understanding. Externally: promoting the industry or regional agenda, lobbying, etc.
      Facilitation/creation of synergiesStimulate identification and utilisation of synergies within the system. Collaboration and joint projects (e.g. joint product development, processing, R&D, lobbying, resource development, etc.)
      Guidance of search (Regional governance)Induce actors to enter the RIS, to direct their search and investments towards the system. Also to direct the attention of actors in the system towards specific problems and growth opportunities.

      Taxonomy of policy measures

      To complete the analytical framework for the first capitalisation questions, it is also necessary to look at what specific policy areas the projects address. A policy area is understood as a sub-set of innovation policy that can be addressed through specific measures, i.e. a programme, initiative, project, etc., designed to address a specific problem and/or to strengthen a function of an innovation system. Within the context of this analysis, such interventions normally constitute the good practices of the projects.

      An important part of the capitalisation exercise has been to define a set of policy areas that corresponds to the measures (good practices) identified by the projects. This has been achieved by investigating how the projects themselves have classified their work and by trying to find a common taxonomy that corresponds, as far as possible, to the terminology used by the projects themselves. Due to the varying nature of the projects’ objectives and approaches, this can differ significantly and so does the wording used by the projects to characterise them. Despite this, a common taxonomy, comprising the following themes has been designed:

      In short, the analytical frameworks outlined above will be used to describe, discuss and present the fundamental nature of the projects as well as their selected good practices.

  • 2.2 Analytical framework - Added value and synergies

    • To answer the questions in this group, it is necessary to define what ‘a particularly interesting or innovative practice or policy’ means. This will make it possible to develop a process that facilitates the identification of potential good practices and to set up criteria that help in actually deciding what the interesting cases are. Overall, the projects under the theme Innovation systems have identified several hundreds of good practices. As it is unfeasible to review all of these within the capitalisation exercise, we apply a ‘funnel model’ that narrows the total number to a more manageable amount of good practices. Principally, this ‘funnel’ comprises a number of steps, including a primary list of identified ‘Initial Good Practices’, an identified number of ‘Transfer-oriented Good Practices’, that each reduce the number of potential ‘high interest’ practices.

      The initial screening has been done by the project partners themselves. Virtually all of the included projects have identified a large number of practices and applied different filtering mechanisms in order to develop a set of practices that are considered to be in accordance with the project’s objectives and the interest of the project partners, e.g. by carrying out regional Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analyses and matching outcomes with the identified good practices.

      Typically, after this initial filtering, each project worked on around 20-40 ‘Objective-oriented Good Practices’. Most projects describe these practices in a brochure or report.

      After this step, many projects applied another filtering mechanism – the ‘transfer filter’. Here, some of the identified practices are of such interest and relevance to one or more of the project partners that further transfer efforts are warranted. Which and how many good practices enter the transfer process depends on the individual project’s context and design. The process is illustrated in the figure below.

      The approach for assessing if a good practice is particularly interesting or innovative will follow the process outlined above in the sense that not all good practices identified will be analysed. Our focus will be on the ‘objective’ and ‘transfer’-oriented practices. One could argue that the transfer-oriented practices are the most likely to bring added value. However, we believe that limiting the analysis to these practices could lead to interesting cases being overlooked. There are also projects that still have not reached the transfer stage. To avoid this, the following aspects will be taken into account when identifying the particularly interesting practices:

      • The good practice has been highlighted by the partnership itself, e.g. in presentations, etc.
      • The good practice is mentioned by interviewees involved in the capitalisation exercise (mainly Lead Partner representatives)
      • There is apparent high interest from a large number of project partners (or others) in a specific good practice. This can be determined based on interviews with

      Lead Partners but also from project documents and evaluation reports.

      As the actual transfer of practices does not only depend on the expressed interest of a region, a further set of aspects must also be considered when discussing which good practices are of particular interest. These aspects are related to the actual transfer factors of success and include:

      1. Specialisation
        Specialisation refers both to the thematic specialisation of a practice and the regional context it functions within. In short, this means that in order to be transferable a practice should normally be focused in its nature and not a general approach to a problem.
      2. Reproducibility
        Reproducibility is the ability of the transferee partner to obtain similar performance shown by the practice in the transferor partner region after implementation.” (ERMIS Charter of Best practice). This aspect is very much context dependent: a region taking up a practice must not only make sure that the mechanisms are in place to actually deliver the practice but also that other regional framework conditions are favourable.
      3. Effects
        The extent to which implementation is likely to be conducive to positive impacts on the regional innovation system.
        This means that the analysis must take account of both the interest of beneficiaries in a specific good practice as well as the actual and practical possibility of transferring it to other regions.

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