Global Competitiveness and Regional Innovation: using the Grid to close the gap between Business, Research and Resources

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


...Europe cannot compete unless it becomes more inventive, reacts better to consumer needs and preferences and innovates more. Our future depends on innovation
European Union Regional Policy
September 2006.

Growth in the competitiveness of economically associated but geographically distributed States such as those found within the EU, the US and across Asia, requires a balance between the natural desire to build local R&D intensity and the increasing need for infrastructure that connects with global markets - i.e. to close the gap between Business, Research and Resources (EU Regional Policy, 2006).

This notion of clustering is essentially no different to Adam Smiths observations of the inter-relatedness of trades in The Wealth of Nations (1776), brought to a wider audience by Michael Porter in The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990). Today the encouragement of cluster formation is common feature of regional policies across the globe; however, the resulting clusters often lack visibility or the critical mass required to advertise their existence and communicate their ideas to other States, let alone participate in global markets (EU, 2007).

Investment in cooperative global ICT infrastructure such as the Grid offers the promise of virtualisation of processes within and between organisations that would allow local clusters to compete globally without requiring the scale or intensity implied by traditional industry development patterns.

Unfortunately, the relationship between investment in ICT and the competitiveness of specific organisational processes is vexed, with Robert Solow, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, commenting in 1987 on a productivity paradox that: we see the computer age everywhere except in the productivity statistics.

The paradox was apparently resolved by Brynjolfsson and Hitt (1996), with ICT investments correlating strongly with productivity, especially where organisations were decentralised. However recent data allowing analysis of productivity before and after the investment cycles driven by Y2K and the dotcom boom and bust, have lead the respected economist Robert Gordon to defend his earlier argument that computers and the Internet have had a low impact on overall productivity (Gordon, 2000; McAfee, 2006).

In such an environment, justifying investments in a global hardware and software infrastructure that provides dependable, consistent, pervasive, and inexpensive access to high-end computational capabilities (Foster and Kesselman, 1999) requires a much clearer understanding of the relationship between performance at all levels of the stack from network capability to an organisational capacity for innovation.

The required technical capability is being demonstrated in multiple Grid and eScience programmes across the globe that have supported large-scale highly decentralised collaborations. These include the eVLBI collaborations in Radio- Astronomy, however as Szalay (2006) notes, such data carries little of the sensitivities associated with sharing socio-economic data, which is core to any interaction with global markets.

This raises questions as to the manner in which Grid and eScience technologies may be transferred to businesses that seek to become more innovative, more competitive and hence more productive by closing the gap between Business, Research and Resources.

The presentation explores this question by drawing on the experiences of having established a grid collaboratory to combine and analyse socio-economic data drawn from global markets in order to feed organisational innovation processes managed within a single secure Grid environment.

This Grid first connected Curtin Business School (Western Australia) and Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (Scotland) in 2003, was extended to include the Computer Network and Information Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2005, and continues to develop in the light of opportunities offered by infrastructures such as TEIN2.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Event24th Asia-Pacific Advanced Network Conference - Xi’An, China
Duration: 28 Aug 2007 → …


Conference24th Asia-Pacific Advanced Network Conference
Period28/08/07 → …

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