15.04.14 ISSUE 296 of the OREDI Newsletter is now available.


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Scholars of technological change have come to recognize that the process of innovation is fundamentally social in character, and that particular countries and regions have developed distinctive ways of producing useful innovations. From this perspective, the analysis of innovation investigates how the institutional and cultural environment of a region, and its urban centres, supports or retards the innovation process. A regional innovation system (RIS) is conceived as the set of economic, political and institutional relationships within a given geographical area that generates a collective learning process, leading to the rapid diffusion of knowledge and best practice. The Ontario Network on the Regional Innovation System (ONRIS) is dedicated to the study and understanding of this pattern of interaction in Ontario. The purpose of the network is to investigate how the interaction of firms and regional institutions in Ontario promotes the process of innovation and social learning critical for success in the new global economy.

The network is led by Meric S. Gertler and David A. Wolfe of the Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems (PROGRIS) at the University of Toronto's Centre for International Studies. It links researchers at the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa, Queens University, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Waterloo. The members of the network share a number of common research interests. These include: one, the nature and extent of interfirm networks in the Ontario economy and its urban centres. How do these networks promote a social process of learning which leads to innovation? What impact do foreign ownership, cultural and institutional differences between regions, and local institutional differences have on these networks and on the innovation process? Two, what role do community organizations and local systems of governance play in the creation and growth of innovative firms? Three, what role do support institutions, such as the higher education sector, government laboratories, and technology transfer institutions, play in facilitating the creation, diffusion, and commercialization of new technologies?

ONRIS is one of the five subnetworks which form the Innovation Systems Research Network (ISRN), and serves as the National Secretariat for ISRN. ONRIS is funded by by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, with additional funding from Infrastructure Canada, the National Research Council, and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. Through its participation in the national Network, ONRIS diffuses its research findings both nationally and regionally and shares insights with its subnetwork partners.