Innovation Systems and Economic Development: The Role of Local and Regional Clusters in Canada was a five-year, $2.5 million study funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to examine the impact and importance of cluster-driven innovation in Canada. The first of its kind in Canada, the study investigated how local networks of firms and supporting infrastructure of institutions, businesses and people in communities across Canada interact to spark economic growth.
The ISRN clusters initiative was a national project with a regional focus. The research was conducted through a collaborative effort of ISRN researchers drawn from four regional nodes based in Atlantic Canada (ACISN), Quebec (RIN), Ontario (ONRIS), and western Canada (Innocom). Representatives of the ISRN's diverse network of scholars, government partners, private and not-for-profit sectors and international collaborators, contributed to the project’s examination of the dynamics of industrial clusters in both urban and non-urban centres.
While previous studies of innovation systems and economic development have been limited to individual regions, this project analyzed how the growth of clusters contributes to economic growth and development within a number of regions across Canada. The individual case studies focused on 25 clusters across the four regions in newly emerging knowledge-intensive areas (e.g. biomedical, photonics/wireless) as well as in more traditional sectors (e.g. manufacturing, wood products, food and beverage, automotive and steel).