Benchmarking Innovation in the Valencian Community

European urban and regional studies

Benchmarking on innovation policies allows less developed territories to adjust their learning processes along with the experiences of others. There are successful territories in Europe where innovation policies have become key to their development, but there
are others where this is not the case, as in most Spanish regions. The purpose of this article is to benchmark the Valencian Innovation System, at three levels of analysis: (a) Spanish; (b) Mediterranean; and (c) European regions. Our results highlight its main strengths and weaknesses, which are indicative of the deficiencies in the Valencian industrial structure and the difficulties involved in absorbing newly qualified, highly educated people. The Valencian Community shows relative strengths in those aspects related to public funding while its weaknesses are related to private activities. This structural imbalance drives us to categorize the Valencian Innovation System as weak, unarticulated and unbalanced, which makes us question the real existence of a regional innovation system in the Valencian Community.We consider that support from the regional government should be oriented first towards the definition of some common consensus-based targets in which the main actors are involved. Then second, trepreneurial activities should be fostered, which may link the existing industrial structure to the public research system in the region. Third, a structural change should be promoted in Valencian universities, with greater emphasis on cooperation with regional firms, and knowledge transfer to small and medium-sized enterprises
(SMEs) so as to increase their competitiveness.