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MIT Industrial Performance Center

Research Description

The policy debate around regional economic development has been dominated by a few outstandingly successful centers of technological entrepreneurship, notably including Silicon Valley and the Boston area in the United States, and the Cambridge region in the U.K. But most locales do not have clusters of high-technology ventures of such scale, nor are they home to research and educational institutions with world-class strengths across a broad range of disciplines.

Many locales, on the other hand, do have distinctive industrial capabilities and vibrant higher educational institutions, and some have been quite successful in harnessing new technology to revitalize their economies or even to reinvent themselves as centers of innovation and competitive advantage.

The Local Innovation Systems Project investigated cases of actual and attempted industrial transformation in more than 23 locales in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The research developed new insights into how regional capabilities can spur innovation and economic growth. The goal is ultimately to develop new models of innovation-led industrial development.

To address these questions, we carried out a series of longitudinal comparative case studies in multiple locations, each focused on a different field or sub-field of industry. The case studies were conducted by teams of researchers from the IPC and our partner institutions. These case studies were augmented by qualitative and quantitative analysis using local and regional data sources, and the project drew on related large-sample survey research jointly conducted by the University of Cambridge’s Center for Business Research and the Industrial Performance Center.

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