Services in innovation: The role of knowledge intensive business services in the innovation process of firms (Utrecht, 2000)

Services in innovation: The role of knowledge intensive business services in the innovation process of firms
Utrecht, 11-12 May 2000

The 6CP workshop of May 2000 was organised jointly by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and TNO Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Netherlands. It took place at the Grand Hotel Karel V in Utrecht. This workshop explored the role of external business services in the innovation process of firms.

Traditionally, government agencies and public knowledge centres have played a supportive role in the innovation process. Empirical studies indicate, however, that some important services related to innovation are not carried out by the innovating firms themselves, but by other service supply firms. These so-called knowledge intensive business services are among the fastest growing sectors in the economy. Given the important role of innovation in the economy, it is imperative to learn how knowledge intensive business services function within the innovation process. To what extent and how do they support innovations in our economies? Under what conditions can they contribute to innovation? What requirements do they set for labour-markets? Do these developments imply a changing role for traditional public knowledge infrastructure?

The main objectives of this conference were to:

  • Establish a state-of-the art picture of the role of knowledge intensive business services; and
  • Explore the most important policy implications of this development.

With a view to clarifying the role of knowledge intensive business services, several questions were addressed: What is the size and nature of the business services' contribution to innovation in a country? Does their role differ per sector? Are those business service firms mainly subcontractors for the innovating firms or are they "partners in innovation"? Do these knowledge intensive business service firms work mainly in a domestic market or are they internationally oriented?

To obtain a better understanding of the policy implications of the growing importance of knowledge intensive business services, two questions were addressed. Firstly, what is the level-playing field for these business services? This entails an examination of the labour market, of higher education, of the knowledge infrastructure and of impacts on innovation in the legal and regulatory environment. Secondly, what does the growing importance of knowledge intensive business services imply for innovation policies in general (in both EU-member and non-EU-member countries)?

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