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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Innovation Clusters and knowledge trajectories

This paper `River deep, mountain high: Of long‐run knowledge trajectories
within and between innovation clusters, by Önder Nomaler and Bart Verspagen examined the global pipeline of knowledge from a different perspective. 
Knowledge flows differentiate an innovation cluster from an industrial cluster. We examined the knowledge flows as part of DST sponsored project on Innovation Cluster , which was published as `Promoting Innovation in Clusters'. Global pipelines are purpose-built connections between a given local firm and parties in the world outside. Partners can range from other firms, suppliers, customers, universities, to research centres. Establishing a global pipeline is expensive, yet, it is possible with a conscious effort on the part of partners at both ends of the pipeline, making the exchange highly targeted towards specific pre-defined goals.

New and valuable knowledge can always be created in other parts of the world and firms that can build a pipeline for such sites of global excellence gain competitive advantage.
Information that one cluster firm can acquire through its pipelines will spill over to other
firms in the cluster through local buzz. In developed economies, pipelines to the outside
world are regarded as key source for radical innovation, channelling new knowledge and
practices to local firms. Local interactions represent a more genuine vehicle for incremental

The authors bring in the concept of technological trajectories ,  defined as (patent)citation chains, A very simple example is where patent A in region 1 is cited by patent B in region 2, which is in turn cited by patent C in region 3. The knowledge flow is then A(1) -> B(2) -> C(3). In terms of the start- and endpoint of this example path, we see a “deep” knowledge flow from region 1 to region 3. However, because patents usually cite more than one other patent, we need a way to conceptualise the complex networks that arise in the real world.

The picture shows Top main path in the East coast-to-East coast sandwich network (nodes are patents, lines are citations; main path is indicated with arrows and bold lines)
When a technological trajectory develops, it
does so along a specific spatial trajectory. This spatial trajectory mostly consists of chains of
patents from inventive clusters. In other words, the results from the technological cluster
literature have a strong relevance for the analysis of technological trajectories. The way in
which firms use local buzz and build global pipelines will have a strong influence on how
trajectories develop. On the other hand, the development of the technological trajectories that the firm is interested in will also determine how it builds its global pipelines of knowledge transfer, and where it will seek local buzz.

Indian firms can tap the global knowledge emanating from other clusters relatively easily when that knowledge is embedded in best practices, capital goods, aided by supplier/ buyer. That tends to be incremental in nature. Competitive advantage is derived from more substantial knowledge flows that are in fluid stage and in patents. Thus Indian firms citing core patents of other , far away cluster firms stand better chances of benefiting from knowledge trajectories. 

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