, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 550-568
Date: 12 Oct 2011

Regional Innovation Policy Beyond ‘Best Practice’: Lessons from Sweden

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This paper deals with policy measures in the regional innovation system of Scania, Southern Sweden. Focus is on the innovation policy requirements of actors representing industries that draw on different knowledge bases. Previous studies have identified profound industry-specific differences concerning the organisation of knowledge sourcing between firms and other actors. In correspondence with these findings, industries are also expected to vary with regard to how policy measures aiming to support innovation are perceived and implemented. Still, there is a tendency among regional policy programmes to base their strategies on one ‘best practice’ model, inspired by successful (or sometimes less successful) cases in other parts of the world. Here, regional policy initiatives targeting three distinct industries in Scania, namely life science, food and moving media, are discussed, in particular their ability to meet the specific needs and demands of firms in these industries. The findings reveal that the existing initiatives are customized on a rather generic level and not sufficiently fine-tuned to the particular needs and demands of the respective actors. Policies are recommended to take the specific characteristics of the industrial knowledge base into account in order to provide appropriate support and to become an effective part of the institutional framework of the regional innovation system.