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Benchmarking Regional Innovation: A Comparison of Bavaria, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

By Stephen Roper

Abstract

Regional regeneration strategies based on developing innovation capability have received much support in recent years. Evaluation of the effectiveness of such initiatives has, however, been limited largely to an assessment of the impact of such strategies on policy frameworks and attitudes. Based on innovation survey data covering nearly a decade, this paper outlines a number of external innovation benchmarks for core and peripheral regions within the EU. The benchmarks considered cover the innovation objectives, constraints resources, linkages and outputs of manufacturing firms. Despite considerable efforts in recent years to develop the innovation capability and institutional support framework for innovation in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the benchmarks still point to a substantial performance gap between the Irish and German study regions and provide little evidence of convergence over the 1991-99 period. The benchmarks also suggest other more general points emphasising, for example, a general shortening of product lifecycles and a related shift towards more radical innovation. More disappointing is in that in each of the study regions the development of environmentally friendly products is given a low and diminishing priority by manufacturing firms.

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