The importance of science and technology for socio-economic development is widely acknowledged and has become a core field of activity for policy makers in many countries. While scientific efforts are still being undertaken to better understand the mechanisms of knowledge generation, technology transfer and commercialisation, a large array of different policy programmes and initiatives have already been conceived. Among the most important fields of action are: targeted investment in public R&D, promotion of scientific careers, incentives for investment business R&D, reduction of bureaucratic obstacles and fostering of closer interactions between universities, public research organizations and firms (the actors of the “triple helix”). While not directly focusing on the regional level, the increasingly popular triple helix approach illustrates the changing nature of the interactions between the research sector, the business sector and the state. It states that, held together by a complex set of organisational linkages, those spheres begin to overlap, and each sphere is increasingly able to assume the role of another1. While universities take on entrepreneurial tasks and firms develop academic dimensions, the role of public institutions in promoting research has risen beyond the provision of the rights framework. In this context, the trend towards the devolution of power to the regional level increasingly provides also regional policy makers with a mandate for RTDI policy. However, the relationship between general strategies for research and innovation and the concrete decision-making processes for the implementation of policy initiatives tends to remain particularly weak at the regional level.
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