EU Science Hub

R&D and Innovation across Global Value Chains: Insights for EU Territorial Innovation Policy


Key messages
* Firms organise innovation activities across a wider range of geographically dispersed and specialized units, as compared to previous decades. Moreover corporate innovation processes are broken up into ever finer stages and tasks at the global scale.
* The global dispersion of R&D and innovation activities occurs at a higher pace and goes hand in hand with a stronger regional polarization. Yet, corporate R&D remains a domestic activity, although functional and industry-specific patterns can be observed.
* The increased internationalisation of R&D and innovation activities does not imply the hollowing-out of domestic ones. Foreign innovation activities may actually support domestic increases in innovation.
* The internal and external connections of national and regional systems matter for their innovation performance. The quality of the regional learning and innovation systems is important to attract “relevant activities or segments” of the GVC. On the other hand, better connecting regions to the global innovation networks is important for local growth and employment.
* The extent to which firms co-locate production and innovation activities depends on industry, product and process-specificities.
* Evidence is needed on how R&D and innovation activities are sliced and diced across GVCs, on how these global corporate dynamics interact with national and regional innovation systems and on how they impact on local growth and employment.