This knowledge synthesis is part of The Monieson Centre’s Knowledge Impact in Society (KIS) Project, a three‐year endeavour to connect academic knowledge with economic development needs in Eastern Ontario. The synthesis is an accessible presentation of the latest research on issues affecting rural Eastern Ontario. The knowledge synthesis topics were determined through information gathered at 15 community workshops run in partnership with the Eastern Ontario Community Futures Development Corporation network.
Over two reports, this Knowledge Synthesis series highlights the general principles of Community Economic Development (CED). This structured approach to planning has gained prominence over the past fifteen years and provides new potential for the development of rural communities. The following paper series was developed to highlight the importance of CED for local stakeholders and to provide them with basic concepts and principles they can use to guide the effective planning of their communities. Part I, describes the foundations and basic principles of CED. Part II recognizes the importance of innovation in today’s dynamic and global economy, and therefore focuses on innovation as a major component of CED.
The importance of innovation planning stems from a relatively recent shift in the forces driving the economy. In contrast to product and production efficiency that were the primary drivers of the industrial economy, today’s economy relies on information and how it is used in the production of new ideas. Although this shift is quite apparent, it has proven difficult to adapt to for many smaller peripheral rural regions. Their strategies and planning tend to reflect the antiquated practices developed to improve functioning in the industrial economy. However, increasing pressures from globalization and technological advancements are bringing to the forefront the realization that communities must be able to change along with the economic milieu. Such change necessitates an understanding of the underlying dynamics of today’s innovation economy, and related functional practices that ensure survival and competitiveness.
What follows is a brief synthesis of the current knowledge associated with the innovation economy and how communities can best function in this environment. The first section will discuss the innovation economy, what it is, what it consists of and how it functions. The second section develops the notion that networks and clusters are key to innovation planning. The third and final section develops the idea that a key role for community development practitioners is to function as innovation brokers.