INTRANET

New volume: The Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks

Dr Paul Benneworth launched the new volume “The Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks” at Chemelot Campus, Sittard, Limburg.

New advanced in information and communications are transforming the way that innovation takes place.  Face-to-face proximity was once a requirement for successful knowledge transfer and exchange, by helping build the trust and shared understanding necessary to exchange tacit knowledge and know-how.  But new technologies are changing the way people organise their social relations over space and it is now just as easy to build strong working relationships with partners thousands of kilometres distant as in the next office.  So why are governments across the world investing billions of euros in developing ‘innovation campuses’  that are justified precisely on the grounds that they help build up dense inter-personal networks that can help drive innovation processes?

Answering this wicked question lies at the heart of the rationale of the International Working Group on the Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks, co-organised by the Institute of Innovation and Governance Studies at the University of Twente. Over the last five years, the network has convened workshops in Nijmegen, Delft, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Glasgow, Tampere, and Aachen that have sought to understand the relationship between innovative individuals, their wider social and professional networks, and the physical spaces within which they carry out their innovation.  The results of their deliberations have finally been brought together in a volume within the prestigious Regional Studies Association book series, Regions and Cities, published by Routledge, entitled the Social dynamics of innovation networks.

To mark this publication of this important work, the 2014 SDIN network meeting was arranged in Limburg, a province which is placing great emphasis on the development of new campus spaces to better position regional firms, universities and policy-makers within global innovation networks.  The province is investing hundreds of millions of euros in developing new ‘knowledge community precincts’ at Greenport Venlo, the Heerlen Smart Services Hub and the Maastricht Health campus as well as the Limburg Knowledge Axis to create smaller cluster campuses across the region.  A key site for Limburg is the Chemelot Campus for chemistry and new materials, and this provided the ideal opportunity for policy-makers to reflect on and digest the lessons of how to optimise local knowledge campuses to optimise contribution to innovation in international networks.

Alongside a full academic programme of twelve scientific processes, a policy panel of speakers from the Open University, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, DG REGIO of the European Commission and the Province of Limburg presented their reflections on the policy challenges facing the development of smart, networked innovation campuses.  The King’s Commissioner of the Province of Limburg, Theo Bovens, observed:

“The campus is not an end unto itself. The region’s small and medium-sized enterprises must also be linked, the region needs to attract new businesses, residents need employment, and our young people need education and training. We need to foster an entrepreneurial spirit to translate new expertise and research results into economic activity throughout the province. These are precisely the aspects that we as the provincial government wish to stimulate.”

The policy panel culminated with a launch of the book “the Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks”: to formally mark the occasion of that launch, the first official copy of the book was presented to Drs. Bovens.

More information on the Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks International Working Group is available via Dr. Paul Benneworth (p.benneworth@utwente.nl)