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DateMonday, June 28, 2010
AuthorS K

Networks Vital For Smart Economy

Building Collaborative Networks is Essential to Develop Ireland as an Innovation Island



Pictured: Professor Woody Powell of Stanford University, by photographer Nick BradshawBuilding collaborative networks is essential to develop Ireland as an innovation island. That was the key message delivered today at University College Dublin by influential business, industry and academic leaders who took part in InterTradeIreland's 2010 All-island Innovation Conference.


During a keynote address, Professor Woody Powell, a leading economic sociologist at Stanford University, California outlined key factors required to build robust business clusters within an economy.



Prof Powell's talk focused on the development of the biotech industry in the United States.


He said that although each of the 11 regions he had studied was rich in resources such as scientific knowledge, money and business skills and each of these regions had the potential to form biotech clusters, only three of the regions  did actually manage to form robust clusters, he said, while the other eight had so far failed to.



Professor Powell concluded that the successful clusters were marked by the presence of local ‘anchor tenants' who fostered the values of openness and transparency in the region and encouraged exploration, a diversity of types of organisations and a dense web of local relationships.



According to Professor Powell, "Collaborative networks are the locus of innovation and explain why high-tech clusters form in some regions but not others, even when the regions have comparable resources."


He added, "The implication for all industrial sectors is that successful clusters require the thorough mixing of people, ideas and resources across the university, business and financial communities. Having organisational diversity and catalytic organisations which provide the relational glue to hold clusters together and facilitate the transfer of best practices are also essential."


He concluded:"The development of true collaborative networks will be instrumental in the development of a robust and innovative knowledge-based economy on the island of Ireland."


The common theme, which emerged from all speakers, was that collaborative networks are essential to drive and facilitate innovation and to develop a dynamic and indigenous knowledge-based economy on the island of Ireland.


The objective of the conference was to explore and deepen the understanding of the potential economic opportunities which arise from building collaborative networks.



IDA Ireland Manager, Strategic Investments and RD&I Policy Dr Leonora Bishop said: "IDA Ireland has been driving our national innovation agenda through collaborative networks, high-tech clusters interacting with the latest academic thinking in order to increase our translational research capacity."


She added "This is precisely what Professor Powell has been advocating."



InterTradeIreland's Strategy and Policy Director, Aidan Gough said, "InterTradeIreland is aiming to create an all-island innovation eco-system that can provide for a more efficient and effective use of resources to the mutual benefit of both jurisdictions. The eco-system will take advantage of each others' strengths to create scale in both excellence and opportunity."


He concluded, "Such a system will be connected in a manner which ensures that creative ideas are nurtured quickly and effectively to successful commercialisation."



Opening the conference  NovaUCD Director Dr Pat Frain said, "There is a critical need to create innovation networks at all-island and international levels and to invest in their evolution in order to optimise collaboration and facilitate engagement between relevant stakeholders."


He added, "The development and expansion of innovation networks have a major role to play in economic renewal on the island of Ireland and in particular in developing Ireland's emergence as an innovation island."



Speakers at the conference included some of the island's leading business and industry leaders who discussed the theme of building collaborative networks for innovation in a knowledge economy.



Bord na Móna Director of Innovation Dr Hubert Henry said, "Bord na Móna believe innovation is a 'team sport' which must involve internal and external stakeholders to be truly successful. No company or organisation is an island. It can't all be done in-house. By becoming outward looking and developing external collaborative networks an organisation can maximise the value added benefits accrued."


He added:"In a way it is a form of innovation 'eco-system' which needs to be developed and possibly, of more importance, maintained."


ROUNDUP330.pngAs Clarigen CEO Bernie Cullinan put it: "In a world of increasing complexity, the power of many through collaboration provides a pathway to the development and execution of higher quality ideas at lower cost."


Other speakers were  Intel's European Labs Director Dr Martin Curley, Randox Laboratories founder Dr Peter FitzGerald;  European Ambassador of Creativity and Innovation Damini Kumar and  Crospon CEO Dr John O'Dea.


The InterTradeIreland 2010 All-island Innovation Conference was organised by NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre and UCD's Innovation Research Unit.


The conference formed part of the InterTradeIreland All-island Innovation Programme which aims to promote and encourage innovation across the island of Ireland. This Programme is organised by InterTradeIreland, Queen's University Belfast, NovaUCD and the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change, NUI Galway


Pictured: Professor Woody Powell of Stanford University, by photographer Nick Bradshaw



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