While most innovation collaboration projects consist of partners who are located at close proximity, recent literature has explored the development of innovation collaboration in the context of non-spatial proximity. Using a longitudinal mixed methods design, this article explores the inter-regional collaboration of triple helix partners from four non-contiguous European regions (Bucharest-Ilfov, Romania; Central Hungary, Hungary; Castilla-La Mancha, Spain; and South East, Ireland) which worked together to develop an inter-regional innovation system. The results from the study identified three non-spatial forms of proximity (social, cognitive and organisational) that were key determinants for developing the successful inter- regional innovation collaboration studied in this research. Based on the findings derived from this research, an inter-regional innovation system framework was developed to facilitate collaboration between stakeholders based in non-contiguous regions without them having to depend on geographical proximity. The major contributions of this research to theory and practice are the development of a novel framework for inter-regional innovation systems (iRIS) which can be applied by stakeholders in regions that want to collaborate from a distance. Furthermore, the research suggests that the substitution mechanism of geographical proximity consists of not just one non-spatial form, but it consists of the three non-spatial forms identified in this research.
- Inter-regional innovation system
- Longitudinal study
- Triple Helix actors