Learning, knowledge flows, and innovation in Canadian regions
Over the last two decades, the topic of innovation has captured the attention of policy-makers and researchers across Canada and internationally. Innovation, supported by learning and knowledge flows, is seen as the catalyst for jobs and economic growth as well as the solution to pressing economic, social, and environmental challenges. As one of the central themes of new regionalism, the literature on innovation has offered a number of important insights. Perhaps, the most significant argument is the understanding that innovation is a social process that includes interaction and learning between a wide variety of stakeholders, from individual entrepreneurs and firms to institutions like government agencies, universities, colleges, and innovation centres. Also emerging from this literature is the “rediscovery of the region” as a particularly appropriate setting for learning and innovation to occur. The purpose of this chapter is to explore this theme of new regionalism in Canadian regions, particularly in rural regions, which have largely been ignored in the innovation literature. Our analysis is based on empirical evidence from our case study regions in British Columbia, Ontario, Québec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. This chapter also reflects on a number of important lessons that emerged from these regions regarding innovation and the role of learning and knowledge sharing in innovation processes. Finally, we provide areas for future policy and research discussions.