Lessons from Earlier Programme Initiatives
In modern growth theories, the geographical place, the region, plays a prominent role. Innovative regional environments can be characterized either as an industrial district or as a high-tech ITC or biotech cluster. In Sweden, there are both world-class clusters, for example, Kista in Stockholm and Mjärdevi in Linköping, and traditional small-scale entrepreneurial industrial districts, such as Gnosjö. In the latter, learning in companies has traditionally taken place at the workplace. The underlying idea of the Structural Fund-financed programme Learning Company Networks (Brulin 2002) was that systematic networking between participants with similar work tasks in four large companies in the industrial district should increase developmental learning. Co-workers in the same position from different companies met and exchanged experiences over development work. Little by little they were also introduced to scientific knowledge, which is not usually very highly ranked in such industrial districts. Linkages and networks with the nearby universities and university colleges were established. High-technology clusters, which in Kista and Mjärdevi take different measures for competence transfer and increasing innovation capacity, by such means as incubators for new companies, have become important for cluster dynamics.