Rapid Appraisal of Local Innovation Systems (RALIS): Assessing and Enhancing Innovation Networks

Rapid Appraisal of Local Innovation Systems (RALIS) is a methodology to conduct a rapid diagnosis of a locality, a value chain or a cluster with a special focus at technology and innovation. The starting point is an observation which is consistently coming out of the analysis of successful localities: innovation is not only based on intra-firm efforts but also, and in particular, on dense networks of interaction between a variety of actors – companies, training institutions, research and technology extension organisations, and others. Thus, RALIS is designed in a way which permits the identification of such networks, or their absence, and a rough assessment of their density and effectiveness.

RALIS is a methodology to get an overview of the main features of a local innovation system or the innovation processes along a value chain within a short period of time. In the wider sense, it is a rapid, practical, bottom-up, participatory and network stimulating approach to local/regional economic development or value chain promotion.

RALIS can be used for two different purposes:
1. for a diagnostic without implications for immediate action,
2. as an action-oriented method.

If it is used purely as a diagnostic method, it has the potential to render reliable results within a relative short period of time. However, it must be taken into account that it is not really a "scientific" method, so it has to be complemented with other methods in case scientific accuracy has to be achieved. At the same time, for policy-oriented research it may be sufficient.

If it is used as an action-oriented method, scientific accuracy is of secondary importance; the approach rather follows the principle “better be roughly right than precisely wrong”. If it is action-oriented, this has implications for the overall organization of the project, especially in terms of a strong involvement of local actors.

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