The new industrial policy approach of the European Community (EC) stresses that industrial adjustment has to be supported by the creation of a positive environment for inter-firm cooperation, the promotion of conditions for entrepreneurship and innovation, the full development of innovative opportunities, and the development of human capabilities (article 130 of the Treaty of Maastricht).
Since the national systems of innovation are still very different throughout Europe, the EC decided in the late 1980s to reverse the convergence process from top-down to bottom-up, by introducing programmes which attempt to stimulate the creation of networks of innovators. This approach was clearly influenced by the debateon industrial districts and by the more general debate on innovation diffusion.
It is based on the possibility of favouring aggregations of firms, research institutes, universities, framed in their own national contexts, but forced to cooperate in producing innovation.
Technology and Human Resources in Europe after Maastricht, (P. Bianchi e M. Carnoy eds.) International Journal of Technology Management, vol.9, n. ¾, 1994