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Having numerous and even high-quality regional assets is not sufficient to drive growth. Assets must be linked to support regional innovation-based growth. For example, ideas generated by university researchers, while valuable from a purely intellectual standpoint, must be translated into new products or services to reach their full potential for economic development.

 

Collaborative economic development partnerships involving leaders from business, education, government, and non-profits are among the most effective strategies for creating networks. Other networks that can build innovation capacity include angel capital networks, research partnerships between universities and businesses, and workforce development programs that encourage companies, higher education, and secondary schools to work together to train the next generation of skilled workers. Informal ties often are as important as formal ones for facilitating knowledge transfer, though they can be difficult to measure. Getting a sense of the informal networks that form within regions around institutions, such as university alumni associations, is worthwhile.

 

Understanding the formal and informal linkages between regional assets—and the organizations that promote such linkages—is a key aspect of developing a comprehensive understanding.

 

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