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Article

Strengthening the Role of Academic Institutions and Innovation Brokers in Agri-Food Innovation: Towards Hybridisation in Cross-Border Cooperation

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Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
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Business Economics Group, Wageningen University, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen University, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
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HELSUS—Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Joanna Kurowska-Pysz, Rui Alexandre Castanho and Luís Carlos Loures
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4899; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094899
Received: 28 March 2021 / Revised: 20 April 2021 / Accepted: 21 April 2021 / Published: 27 April 2021
Existing research suggests that regions can develop their long-term competitive advantage through well-functioning interregional innovation cooperation. In this article, we use the example of innovation in small and medium-sized agri-food enterprises (SMEs) to scrutinise and compare regional innovation approaches on each side of the Dutch-German border and explore how they can converge into a cross-border innovation space. Particular attention is paid to the role of academic institutions and innovation brokers in creating a common innovation space. We explore how differences between two cross-border regions can be harnessed to enhance the impact of innovation, and how this may lead to what we describe as hybridisation effects. In the empirical analysis, we apply the concept of hybridisation to a cross-border innovation space, something that, as far as we are aware, has not been done before. We empirically ground the concepts of a cross-border innovation space and hybridisation and illustrate how relative regional strengths can lead to hybridisation effects. We conclude that differences in economic structures, institutional set-ups, visions and identities inherent in cross-border spaces are not only hindrances, but also opportunities, and we highlight the importance of these complementary strengths and the potential for their strategic use by regional innovation actors. Our findings are highly relevant for the further development of the Interreg Europe programme and the implementation of the EU’s Territorial Agenda 2030. View Full-Text
Keywords: proximity; academic institutions; innovation brokers; agri-food; innovation space; hybridisation; SMEs; cross-border; Interreg; Euregio Rhein-Waal proximity; academic institutions; innovation brokers; agri-food; innovation space; hybridisation; SMEs; cross-border; Interreg; Euregio Rhein-Waal
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MDPI and ACS Style

Knickel, M.; Neuberger, S.; Klerkx, L.; Knickel, K.; Brunori, G.; Saatkamp, H. Strengthening the Role of Academic Institutions and Innovation Brokers in Agri-Food Innovation: Towards Hybridisation in Cross-Border Cooperation. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4899. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094899

AMA Style

Knickel M, Neuberger S, Klerkx L, Knickel K, Brunori G, Saatkamp H. Strengthening the Role of Academic Institutions and Innovation Brokers in Agri-Food Innovation: Towards Hybridisation in Cross-Border Cooperation. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):4899. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094899

Chicago/Turabian Style

Knickel, Marina, Sabine Neuberger, Laurens Klerkx, Karlheinz Knickel, Gianluca Brunori, and Helmut Saatkamp. 2021. "Strengthening the Role of Academic Institutions and Innovation Brokers in Agri-Food Innovation: Towards Hybridisation in Cross-Border Cooperation" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 4899. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094899

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