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Developing a Knowledge Infrastructure to Foster Regional Innovation in the Periphery: A Study from Quebec's Coastal Region in Canada

Pages 1555-1572 | Received 01 Nov 2009, Published online: 08 Dec 2011


Melançon Y. and Doloreux D. Developing a knowledge infrastructure to foster regional innovation in the periphery: a study from Quebec's coastal region in Canada, Regional Studies. Building on the case study of Quebec's coastal region maritime industry, the relevance of the regional innovation system framework to analyse and plan innovation development in the periphery is discussed. The analysis indicates that in Quebec's coastal region, while public policies using the regional innovation system framework have contributed to create a relatively well-developed knowledge infrastructure in the maritime industry, they have not yet succeeded in achieving the main goal of fostering a ‘competitive regional production system’. This case suggests that a ‘thickening’ of the knowledge infrastructure does not automatically lead to significant development in the productive system in peripheral regions.

Melançon Y. and Doloreux D. 发展知识型基础设施以促进周边区域创新: 来自加拿大魁北克沿海地区的研究,区域研究。本文以魁北克省沿海地区航运业为案例,讨论了区域创新系统框架在分析以及规划创新产业发展中的相关性。分析表明,基于区域创新体系框架的公共政策对于创造相对发达的航运业知识型基础设施做出了贡献,但上述政策并未实现促进 “有竞争力的区域生产体系” 这一主要目标。本案例表明,对于知识型基础设施的强化并不能自发地引发边缘地区产业系统的显著发展。

Melançon Y. et Doloreux D. Développer une infrastructure du savoir pour favoriser l'innovation régionale à la périphérie: une étude de la région maritime québecoise au Canada, Regional Studies. En prenant appui sur l'étude du cas de l'industrie maritime du Québec maritime, cet article interroge la validité du modèle du système régional d'innovation (SRI) pour analyser et planifier le développement de l'innovation dans la périphérie. L'analyse indique que, au sein de la région du Québec maritime, bien que les politiques publiques aient réussi à créer une infrastructure de la connaissance relativement bien développée, elles n'ont pas réussi, à ce jour, à atteindre leur objectif principal qui est de favoriser le développement « d'un système productif régional compétitif ». Cette étude de cas suggère qu'une « densification » de l'infrastructure régionale de la connaissance n'engendre pas automatiquement une croissance significative au sein du système productif régional dans les régions périphériques.

Melançon Y. und Doloreux D. Entwicklung einer Wissensinfrastruktur zur Förderung der regionalen Innovation in der Peripherie: eine Studie über die Küstenregion von Quebec in Kanada, Regional Studies. Aufbauend auf der Fallstudie der Schiffs- und Werftindustrie in der Küstenregion von Quebec wird die Relevanz des Rahmens eines regionalen Innovationssystems für die Analyse und Planung der Innovationsentwicklung in der Peripherie erörtert. Aus der Analyse geht hervor, dass die öffentlichen Politiken, die sich den Rahmen des regionalen Innovationssystems zunutze machen, zwar zum Aufbau einer relativ gut entwickelten Wissensinfrastruktur in der Schiffs- und Werftindustrie der Küstenregion von Quebec beigetragen haben, doch das Hauptziel der Förderung eines ‘wettbewerbsfähigen regionalen Produktionssystems’ noch nicht erreicht haben. Dieser Fall legt den Schluss nahe, dass eine ‘Verdichtung’ der Wissensinfrastruktur in peripheren Regionen nicht automatisch zu einer signifikanten Entwicklung des Produktionssystems führt.

Melançon Y. y Doloreux D. Desarrollar una infraestructura de conocimiento para fomentar la innovación regional en la periferia: un estudio de la región costera de Quebec en Canadá, Regional Studies. Basándonos en un estudio de caso de la industria marítima en la región costera de Quebec, en este artículo cuestionamos la validez del modelo de sistema regional de innovación para analizar y planificar el desarrollo de innovación en la periferia. El análisis indica que, si bien las políticas públicas que utilizan el marco de sistema de innovación regional han contribuido a crear en la industria marítima de la región costera de Quebec una infraestructura de conocimiento relativamente bien desarrollada, todavía no han conseguido el principal objetivo de favorecer el desarrollo de un ‘sistema de producción regional competitivo’. Este caso sugiere que una ‘densificación’ de la infraestructura de conocimiento no conduce automáticamente a un desarrollo significativo en el sistema productivo de las regiones periféricas.

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The research reported in this paper was funded by the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC) through the programme ‘Établissement de nouveaux professeurs-chercheurs’ (David Doloreux) and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada through the ‘SSHRC doctoral fellowship’ (Yannik Melançon). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 11th Annual Innovation Systems Research Network (ISRN) National Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The authors are grateful to the Editor and to two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions. The authors also wish to thank B. T. Asheim for his comments on previous drafts on the paper. The usual disclaimers apply.


1. In documents such as Plein cap sur la mer! (Ministère des Régions, Citation2002), the term ‘Quebec's coastal region’ is used to designate as a single entity, namely, the administrative regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Côte-Nord. This policy and ACCORD have, over the last ten years, supported the creation and development of several innovation support organizations and have contributed to structure regional networks within the industry (Melançon and Doloreux, Citation2009). Because of the importance of these policies, the unit of analysis in this case study will be Quebec's coastal region's maritime innovation system.

2. The definition of the maritime industry that is used here is the same as that used by the provincial government in policy documents such as Plein cap sur la mer! (Ministère des régions, Citation2002) and ACCORD (MINISTÈRE DU DÉVELOPPEMENT ÉCONOMIQUE, DE L'INNOVATION ET DE L'EXPORTATION (MDEIE), 2008).

3. There are no official data regarding employment in the maritime industry as it is a group composed of firms operating in different sectors. The number provided here was based on estimates reported in the following: Doloreux et al. Citation(2009), Melançon and Doloreux Citation(2009), and Poulin and Charest Citation(2007).

4. For the list of acronyms used to identify regional innovation support organizations, see the bottom of .

5. For a list of all abbreviations used, see .

6. Author's translation of Compléter et renforcer le système et les réseaux d'innovation du créneau marin.

7. Included here is the original paragraph from which this and the subsequent citation were translated by the authors: ‘Cette orientation consiste, d'une part, à fournir un meilleur soutien aux industries du Québec maritime en matière de recherche fondamentale et appliquée, de recherche et développement et de transfert technologique, et, d'autre part, à favoriser le travail en réseau. Elle se traduira par la consolidation ou la mise sur pied de centres de recherche, de centres d'essais industriels et d'unités d'appui technologique aux entreprises, attirant ainsi dans les régions maritimes des expertises spécialisées en sciences et technologie. Elle donnera lieu au renforcement du travail en réseau à tous les niveaux: entre les secteurs, entre les régions et entre les acteurs en recherche et en appui technologique’ (Ministère des Régions, Citation2002, p. 6).

8. As the knowledge infrastructure encompasses higher education institutes with a mission that is not strictly restricted to the maritime sector, and as it encompasses public research institutes whose main mission is not to provide direct support to the maritime industry, only a fraction of these employees effectively offer innovation support services to maritime firms.

9. An independent survey (Léger Marketing, Citation2002) concludes that one of the newsletters with the highest circulation (La Dépêche – with over 1300 copies) is used by entrepreneurs in the aquaculture and fish and seafood product preparation sectors to gain strategic information about their industry.

10. For example, MIQ in collaboration with MI gives the industry access to several laboratories (computer modelling, electronic navigation and prototyping) and scientific facilities and equipment such as a 20-metre-deep diving pool, two hyperbaric chambers, a marine mechanical workshop, a complete engine room, an engine room simulator and two navigation simulators. Equipment available at MBRC, such as a Level-3 containment facility, a biomarker discovery systems and a robotized unit to perform sample analysis, can also be leased to the industry.

11. Some organizations cannot transfer money directly to others; some have to get external funding to do any new research projects; others operate only on a cost-recovery basis, etc.

12. An example is the development of processes to transform seafood residues into fertilizers and active compounds such as chitin, which is used in the production of glucosamine for the pharmaceutical industry.

13. For instance, MBRC has obtained two patents related to the process of preparing certain polyunsaturated fatty acid monoglycerides that are believed to have certain pharmaceutical properties, among which are treating and inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumours.

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