Scientific Library on Regional Development

Scientific Library on Regional Transformation

What does regional development work in the context of structural change mean: locally, regionally, nationally and internationally? This is what the division Regional Development and Innovation Policy analyzes. It analyzes local and global innovation and knowledge networks and supports the development of utilization structures in organizations and regions. Through evaluations, impact measurements and scientific accompaniment, Fraunhofer IMW researchers contribute to the management of regional development and the design of funding programs and organizational interventions.

In this scientific library, you will find bundled information on how research contributes to successful structural change.

We report on scientific models, instruments and procedures for regional development processes and the resulting policy advice.

This page is updated regularly. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to contact the editors.

News on Regional Development

News, events and information on regional development



Innovation Study Provides Recommendations for Action

Recent Fraunhofer study


Innovation Study Published

A recent Fraunhofer study on regional development in the Rhenish mining region identifies approaches to bundling potential and making more targeted use of the creative spirit in research and industry for successful structural change.


Innovation Study for the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier

Establishing lighthouses, strengthening cooperative networks, and integrating and coordinating all stakeholders in the Rhenish Mining District even better: These are the three major tasks resulting from the new innovation study for the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier and all its partners.

Authors of the Study

The study "Analysis of the Regional Innovation Potentials of Innovation Transfer in the Rhenish Mining District" was conducted by the "Innovation and Education" district node on behalf of the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier. Led by Prof. Dr. Christiane Vaeßen, managing director of the project partner Region Aachen Zweckverband. Realized by the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW in Leipzig, namely by Dr. Friedrich Dornbusch, Dr. Benjamin Klement, Dr. Julian Kahl and Manuel Molina Vogelsang. Fraunhofer IMW awarded a subcontract to the project partner Görgen & Köller GmbH in Hürth. Dr. Christoph Köller, Dr. Walter Görgen, Bettina van Nahl and Josef Pinter were involved there.

Opinions on the Study

Prof. Dr. Christiane Vaeßen, Managing Director of the project partner Region Aachen Zweckverband

Prof. Dr. Christiane Vaeßen: Fraunhofer IMW has outstanding expertise in the study of regional innovation systems. The team of authors around Dr. Friedrich Dornbusch has already studied national and international regions in the past. In addition, an outside view of the Rhenish mining region helps us. With its different perspective on our region, Fraunhofer IMW has produced a meaningful study.

Analysis of Regional Innovation Potentials and Innovation Transfer in the Rhenish Mining Area

Client: Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier GmbH (ZRR) | Contact: Prof. Dr. Christiane Vaeßen, ZRR | Implementation period: 01.09.2020 - 28.02.2021 | Project partner: Görgen & Köller GmbH

On behalf of the Regional Innovation and Education Node of the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier, Fraunhofer IMW is investigating the innovation potential and innovation transfer in the Rhenish Revier. The aim of the study is to support the region in utilizing its potential as a high-performance research and science region in order to master the structural change caused by the end of lignite-based power generation. To this end, the first step was to analyze publication databases to identify fields of innovation in which there is both scientific excellence and potential for further exploitation in the Rhenish mining region. With the help of evaluations of patent data, project databases, online surveys as well as expert interviews, numerous indicators for knowledge and technology transfer in the region were designed. In the course of the project, recommendations for action were thereby developed for the design of the regional innovation system in order to improve the conditions for the transition from excellent research to regional value creation.


Dr. Friedrich Dornbusch presented the "Analysis of Regional Innovation Potentials and Innovation Transfer in the Rhenish Mining Area" on June 22, 2021 as part of an online event of the innovation study for the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier. Its aim was to identify regional fields of innovation with great potential for regional value creation in a scientifically sound and evidence-based manner, to analyze the strengths and weaknesses in the innovation system and to derive recommendations for future improvement.

Glossary Regional Development

In this glossary, we publish scientifically based definitions of terms related to regional development

Regional Innovation Systems

The lonely Daniel Düsentriebs or Mona Menetekels - they are hardly to be found in the wild anymore. Innovations arise in a system of actors, networks and institutions that can be thought of regionally, nationally or sectorally. The researchers at Fraunhofer IMW, who are scrutinizing regional development in processes of structural change, focus their analyses of innovation systems on three levels: the knowledge base of regional actors, their collaborations and relationships within and beyond the region, and the political and social factors that favor or hinder innovation. From this, recommendations for the transformation of regional innovation systems are derived, which enable the emergence of new development paths.

Development paths


The central question in regional development: Where is the development of a region heading? Often, regional economies develop along development paths that can be described by certain industries, research topics, technologies or narratives. Self-reinforcing effects mean that individuals, companies and politicians in a region tend to (un)consciously follow these development paths. In the best case, this leads to the specialization of regions in certain industries, and thus to the emergence of local clusters. In the worst case, the successes of the past will become obstacles for the future. 

Regional Path Development

When paths are followed for too long, although they no longer offer regional growth - as, for example, in the Ruhr region of the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century - the need for the emergence of new development paths is particularly urgent. In the context of regional path development, regions develop new or economic focal points or transform their existing focal points - in the scientific context, we speak of regional diversification. Of particular interest is the extent to which these new activities are linked to existing competencies in the region. Accordingly, regional diversification is divided into related and unrelated diversification.

Regional Development

Demographic change, digital transformation, climate change, energy transition - these are just some of the challenges of the 21st century that not only companies and politics must face. Regions are challenged to find local answers and solutions to global problems and to organize themselves accordingly.

  • How do the numerous regions that are not the Silicon Valley, Munich, Berlin or Leipzig - find their place in the global knowledge economy?
  • For which positions in the global value chain are their competencies most suitable?
  • What new development paths can they best develop?
  • What transformations of their regional innovation systems are necessary for this?

These are all questions that need to be answered in the context of regional transformation by researchers in the division Regional Development and Innovation Policy in a scientific context and in the sense of applied research with the actors in the regions from business, science and society.