Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2009/11: The Role of Local Universities in Improving Traditional SMEs Innovative Performances: The Veneto Region Case

Monica Plechero ()
Additional contact information
Monica Plechero: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: PO Box 117, Sölvegatan 16, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This paper applies a regional system perspective to explore how universities can sustain and improve the innovative performance and competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) belonging to traditional sectors that still strongly characterizes European countries such as Italy. In the Veneto Region, where the empirical analysis has been conducted, collaboration between local universities and traditional SMEs does exist, and these relations are mainly built around activities of process and product innovation of incremental nature aimed at improving firms’ performance. However, this paper shows that in this specific Regional Innovation System (RIS) the potential of local universities have for enhancing the absorptive capacity of SMEs is not fully developed. The contacts between industry and university are mainly scattered in a series of individual and isolated initiatives. Consequently, in a RIS perspective, the results in terms of benefits for the territory are less than what they could potentially be, and there is room for pushing the role of universities further on the path towards becoming territorial developing factories (Lazzeroni, Piccaluga, 2003). Structures of intermediation like Innovation Brokering Agencies, which have widened their activities in the territory in these last years, can represent the leverage to direct the potential of the universities towards local firms’ needs and make the Veneto RIS evolve

Keywords: Regional Innovation Systems; SMEs; local universities; Innovation Brokering Agencies (IBAs)

JEL-codes: O30

22 pages, November 1, 2009

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