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Regional knowledge networks in the Dutch ICT services and life sciences sector

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  1. Regional knowledge networks in the Dutch ICT services and life sciences sector Anet Weterings & Roderik Ponds Netherlands Institute for Spatial Research The Hague, the Netherlands Paper prepared for the DIME-LIEE / NTUA Athens 2006 conference, 30 November – 1 December 2006

  2. Background of the study • Aim of Dutch Ministery of Economic Affairs (2004): to stimulate regional contacts between firms (mainly SMEs) and research institutes • Economic geography: • Localised knowledge networks with many regional contacts among organisations • Firms within those networks obtain more knowledge and therefore perform better

  3. Recent criticism • Spatial proximity is not a necessary condition for knowledge transfer: are there regional knowledge networks? • More attention for heterogeneity among firms in the regional network: • Due to differences in power (mainly size of the firm) • Differences in the internal knowledge base

  4. Three research questions • Are there regional knowledge networks and what is the structure of those networks? • What type of firms use regional contacts to obtain knowledge? • To what extent is there a relation between the firm’s network position and it’s innovative performance?

  5. Outline empirical research • Two sectors: ICT services and life sciences • Three regions: South-Holland and Gelderland (life sciences) and the Middle of the Netherlands (ICT services) • Data collection through telephone survey (response 38-45%) • Social network analysis and regression analyses

  6. Measuring knowledge contacts • Question: Have you ever approached an organisation in the region when you were confronted with problems and has this helped to solve the problem? • Distinction between contacts for: • Technological knowledge • Organisational knowledge • ‘roster recall’ method: mention contacts on a list of names and add missing contacts

  7. Life Sciences - Gelderland Technological 20 firms interviewed Firms with contacts Technological: 95% Organisational: 35% Organisational

  8. Life Sciences – Zuid-Holland Technological 38 firms interviewed Firms with contacts Technological: 68% Organisational: 27% Organisational

  9. ICT services – Middle country Technological 135 firms interviewed Firms with contacts Technological: 48% Organisational: 19% Organisational

  10. Which firms have many regional knowledge contacts? * p < 0.10 ** p < 0.05 *** p < 0.01

  11. Measure innovative performance • Different measures for the two sectors: • Life sciences: number of patents • ICT services: share of turnover due to the sales of new products or services between 2003 and 2006

  12. Relation firm’s network position and innovative performance

  13. In sum, • There are regional knowledge networks, but: • Not all firms are involved • Large differences between the technological and organisational knowledge • Characteristics of the firm are related to the firm’s network position • Size • Different indicators of absorptive capacity • Firm’s network position is not always related to the innovative performance of firms

  14. Future • Characterising the regional network links (long-term contacts? How often face-to-face contacts?) • Spin-offs: • Comparing the knowledge network with structure of spin-off network • Examing the importance of labour mobility and educational networks for the establishment of regional knowledge networks