Coffee Break with Researchers – Bjørn Asheim – Knowledge bases and regional innovation systems


Our coffee break with researchers aim to spread knowledge about regional development and innovation by sending a camera around the world we present you different angles and insights on the topic We ask researchers directly and in a personal manner about their work We want to make scientific knowledge accessible to all Hi, welcome to Coffee Break with Researchers Today, I’m having a coffee break with Bjørn Asheim Professor at the Business School and Center of Innovation Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway. His particular expertise is in economic geography, innovation studies and regional innovation systems Hello Bjørn thank you for accepting this invitation to my coffee break, how are you doing? I’m doing fine and thank you for inviting me to this interview. It is a pleasure. I’m having a black coffee from Costa Rica today. Which one are you having? I always start the day with an americano before turning to an espresso later. I want to talk with you about one of your famous papers, the one related to how industries are embedded regionally and are shaped by industry specific knowledge-bases. Could you please tell me what the paper was about? Very short, the title of the paper is knowledge bases and regional innovation systems. It is about trying to explain why you find different types of regional innovation systems in a systematic way across industries and regions. And we use knowledge bases to try to make sense of that. Could you please explain what knowledge bases are? Knowledge bases is pointing at this sort of ideal type like knowledge foundation that is underpinning firms innovation processes. So, to be able to explain differences in innovation processes like Bengt Åke Lundvall talk with STI and DUI – Science Technology and Innovation, and DUI is Doing, Using, and Interacting you have to understand that they are supported by different types of knowledge. What was your main motivation in doing this research? This paper comes out of Nordic comparative research project on SMES’s and innovation systems and we observed differences in the origins and development, and the workings of regional innovation systems. And one important part of social science is that when you don’t have any intuitive explanation of this you have to try to look for theoretical basis for this observed variance and that is the main task of social science because mostly the society is not accidental is not accidentally happen, you know, and most of it, you can’t understand intuitively then you need theoretically-based empirical research. Based on your findings, which are the main implications for policy making? What we did find here is that to make the argument a bit simpler, we operate with two types of innovation systems, one that is organically grown overtime, together with the collocated industries and the other one is a regional innovation systems that was strategic for building new industries, emerging industries. We explain this by saying that these types of industries have two different types of knowledge bases. So, the new emerging industries are based on analytical, science-based knowledge – it’s IT or biotech and things like that – and they need new knowledge from research from the universities, that is why this relationship is of strategic importance while the other industries, the more traditional industries were broadly speaking engineering based they have much more experience based, DUI form of doing their innovation where you have interaction, interactive learning from many different stakeholders not only universities, but customers and suppliers, and subcontractors, and things like that and this has been organically developed overtime. Does this research feed into the idea that regions need specific innovation policies? Yes, it underlies the argument by Michaela Trippl and Franz Tödtling in their famous article by the way, published in the same special issue of Research Policy “no size fits all” that you have to have place sensitive and place based innovation policy reflecting the existing industries of a region. Thank you once again for having this nice chat with me I wish you all the best for your future research and I hope to see you next time, bye bye. Thank you. Thank you for watching, if you are interested in more details about this research you can find the description and the link to the academic publication here see you next time, bye bye

1 Comment

  1. Ferdinand Haberl

    September 27, 2019 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for the summary of Asheim's paper! Greatly appreciated! 🙂

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