Innovation networking in aspirational subnational innovative regions: exploring experiences from Frances Baard municipality, South Africa
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How underdeveloped localities or subnational regions build the capabilities to realise and spread the benefits of innovation is a longstanding puzzle in innovation studies. To address this puzzle, this study explores the prospects of innovation networking among state and non-state actors in Frances Baard District Municipality, South Africa. In-depth analysis of extensive interviews with key informants across local industry sectors reveals insights about the properties of innovation networks, such as composition and structure, as well as options of network adaptation and combining sectoral networks operating in the same locality. Non-formal networking was far more prevalent across well-established and newer industry clusters, which is similar to examples from elsewhere in the Global South. Networks established to coordinate institutional governance without an explicit
innovation intent could trigger learning, adaption and serendipitous innovations. Further research could extend our findings through deeper investigations on network adaption and coordination for the promotion of innovation in aspiring subnational regions.