This paper presents a systematic account of the idea and content of regional innovation systems following discoveries made by regional scientists, economic geographers and innovation analysts. It considers the conditions and criteria for empirical recognition and judgement as to whether scientifically analysed, concrete cases of innovation activity warrant the designation of regional innovation system. The paper concludes by claiming that the source for Europe's innovation gap with the United States rests on excess reliance on public intervention, which signifies major market failure. The future will require widespread evolution of public innovation support systems along with stronger institutional and organizational support from the private sector.

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