Collaborative networks essential to drive innovation

28 Jun 2010

A host of influential business, industry and academic leaders are attending in InterTradeIreland’s 2010 All-island Innovation Conference taking place at today at University College Dublin.

The key message being delivered by the conference is that building collaborative networks is essential to develop Ireland as an innovation island.

Keynote speaker Professor Woody Powell, a leading economic sociologist at Stanford University, California, believes 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.

“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 explained.

“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 call for collaborative network building was repeated by other speakers at the conference. Aidan Gough, InterTradeIreland’s strategy and policy director, said his organisation is aiming to create an all-island innovation eco-system that can provide for a more efficient and effective use of resources to the benefit of the entire island.

“The eco-system will take advantage of each others’ strengths to create scale in both excellence and opportunity. Such a system will be connected in a manner which ensures that creative ideas are nurtured quickly and effectively to successful commercialisation,” he 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. 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,” confirmed Dr Pat Frain, director of NovaUCD, University College Dublin’s Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre.

Deirdre Nolan