The PASCAL Regional Prosperity Project (PRPP)
The PASCAL Regional Prosperity Project (PRPP) is proposed as a three-year project that seeks between 10 and 15 participating regions around the world. The purpose of the project is to create a global learning network that supports the development of regionally-based innovation systems. These initiatives can make a significant contribution to restoring prosperity to the world’s economy. It will be co-ordinated by our Regional Office in Illinois from 2010-2013
The project will combine research, learning, and action, based on blending two complimentary points of view about how prosperity can be restored to the battered world economy.
The first point of view comes from those who conclude that regions (both sub-national and cross-national) play important new roles in sparking economic growth in today’s global, knowledge-based economy. National policies are still dominant, of course, but there is strong evidence that nations benefit when regions have more autonomy and flexibility to adjust national funding policies and priorities to meet the unique needs of regional workforces and regionally-organized industry clusters that are the sources of new growth.
The second point of view comes from those who conclude that most new economic growth today is driven by entrepreneurial companies (of all sizes) and other organizations that work collaboratively in complex systems of relationships to develop and commercialize new technologies. Sometimes new technologies create entirely new products and services that give birth to new industries. But more often than not, new technologies are the forces of “creative destruction” that revolutionize the features of existing products and services and that spark waves of restructuring and reorganization within industries. Technology foresights predict that fundamental new breakthroughs in science and technology are likely to generate a great deal of new wealth in the next few decades. Many existing industries will undergo rapid growth and restructuring, some will become obsolete, and entirely new ones may emerge. The return to prosperity will be messy.
Prominent thought leaders from government, business, academia, think tanks, and NGOs at all levels have begun to blend these two points of view into innovative regional initiatives to create technology-based innovation systems throughout the world. These initiatives acknowledge that entrepreneurial technology commercialization has a vitally important regional component that must be managed with care.
But there are very few efforts underway to systematically network together the leaders of these innovative initiatives so they can learn from each other’s experiences. In addition, there are only a handful of projects underway that connect policy researchers and technology forecasters from science and engineering to these leaders so they can assess those experiences in a comparative and interdisciplinary context. This must be done in order to develop more rigorous policy frameworks that recognize the relationship between regional governance and economic prosperity in today’s global, knowledge-based economy.
Outline of the Project
The proposed project seeks participation from 10 – 15 regions in different parts of the world. The ideal means by which a region would participate would be through a collaboration between an institution of higher education that has a strong profile in scientific and engineering research and a public agency, or a public-private partnership, that is already engaged, or seeks to become engaged, with a regional technology-based economic development initiative. In larger regions, participation may involve consortia of such partners.
The project’s work plan will include research, learning, and action. Work tasks will be shared between a core project team that will be assembled by PASCAL and partners from within the regions that participate.
The project will produce a series of research products in support of the project’s overall goals. These will include:
• A knowledge base about the broad range of regional technology economic development initiatives that are underway, how they are funded, how they are organized, what range of activities they sponsor, and how their performance is measured. Secondary sources will be used whenever possible. Primary sources will be used when no secondary sources are available.
• An analysis of the various “logic models” that are assumed by the range of regional initiatives underway today. This analysis will highlight the different theories that have inspired these initiatives. By uncovering these logic models, the analysis will assess different methods that could be used to improve performance measurement that are being used by participating regions.
• An analysis of the economic base within each region, and how that base aligns with the principal market opportunities for technology-based commercialization. One principal source of information about commercialization opportunities over the next fifteen years will be a series of studies conducted by the RAND Corporation. We can work with the principal authors of those studies as part of the research.
A core goal of the project is to organize participants into a functioning learning network that can emerge quickly as the most highly expert network of professionals in the world regarding the topic of regional innovation systems. Specific components will include:
• The core project team will develop a user-friendly web-based knowledge portal to serve as the central device to disseminate primary and secondary materials obtained and produced by the project’s research activities. This project portal will relate to the main PASCAL web site, and it will serve as the principal communications device among all project participants.
• PASCAL will organize and deliver two international conferences that bring together project participants to learn from each other, and from relevant experts. The first conference will be scheduled half-way through the project schedule. The second will occur near the end of the project.
• The core project team will develop a series of webinars and online executive education courses on specific topics related to the project and selected by project participants. The webinars and courses will be available at no charge to all participants throughout the project’s time line. (For an additional fee, we may be able to develop these into a package that could earn executive education credit at one of our partner universities).
In order to transfer knowledge directly to action in as many regions as possible, the project will include the following items:
• Within the first year of the project, each participating region will be asked to identify a network of leaders who are contributing, or will need to contribute, to the success of their region’s economic development initiative. PASCAL will then partner with the region’s participants to conduct a two-day strategic planning workshop with the regional leadership group. (Regional participants will host and make local arrangements.) The workshop will incorporate the results of the research products described above as well as other information as appropriate. We anticipate that PASCAL will provide a team of at least two individuals for this task. The outcome will be a shared mission statement for the group and an initial set of actions and performance measures they will use to achieve their goals. This process can be customized as needed to supplement existing strategic planning activities.
• Each region’s goals and performance measures will be shared within the project’s learning network. Regional participants will be asked to monitor performance and report periodic updates on action items.
• The project team will identify common themes that arise in implementing action items and will organize a series of informal web-based advisory meetings in which participants and other individuals within the PASCAL network can trade information and share advice.
Our plan is to start this project no later than September 2010, with completion set for the summer of 2013. A detailed schedule of activities and deliverables will be developed among the partners over the next two months.