A researcher in entrepreneurship, Dr. Jean-Jacques Degroof has served as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Industrial Performance Center. Through his work with the center, Dr. Jean-Jacques Degroof was involved with the Local Innovation Systems (LIS) Project.
The LIS Project explored how universities can support local economic development through their contributions to local industrial innovation processes. In total, 22 localities in six countries were involved in the LIS Project. They included both high -tech and economically less favored regions.
Findings indicate that universities stimulate local innovation in several ways. Besides, their own discoveries, universities can attract new human, knowledge, and finances from other localities. They can adapt knowledge originating elsewhere to local conditions. They can help integrate previously separate areas of technological activity. They can unlock and redirect knowledge that is already present in the region but not being put to productive use. Often the universities’ most important contribution is education. Finally, their role as a public space for ongoing conversations about the future directions of technologies and markets is often overlooked.
LIS Project results show the limitations of a universal approach to local industrial innovation based on patenting and licensing intellectual property to local firms. The research’s conclusions suggest that the university contribution in local innovation processes depends on what kind of industrial transformation is happening in the local economy: new industry formation, industry transplantation, industry diversification, and industry upgrading.