Linking the bottom-up and top-down evolution of regional innovation systems to policy: organizations, support structures and learning processes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Department of Geography 
The literature is ambiguous about whether regional innovation systems (RIS) evolve bottom-up or top-down. This is reflected in RIS policies, which tend to focus on either development of the actor level, i.e. organizations in a RIS, or the system level, i.e. the support structure for innovation. Here, we analyzed a Norwegian RIS policy programme, the Programme for Regional R&D and Innovation (VRI), which aimed to combine both approaches. We found that VRI mainly developed the support structure for innovation and that learning outcomes from VRI involvement in organizations differed between the involved actor groups. This is particularly so for RIS development in regions inexperienced with support structure development prior to VRI involvement. Conversely, in regions with well-functioning support structures prior to VRI, the focus was most beneficially on stimulating learning at the actor level. We argue that future research should investigate mechanisms and interlinkages between the two levels and especially their regional particularities.