As the process consists of launching new products and services out into the market, innovation is one of the engines of economic growth. It is behind the rise of increasing returns to scale, of the expansion of the size of markets and of the deepening of labor division. It conditions the productivity gains locally registered at the scale of firms and industries, and globally registered at the scale of regions and countries. Finally, it constitutes a privileged strategy for economic actors in order to develop and create value, and to obtain favorable competitive positions. Even if the way of managing innovation activities differs from firm to firm, from region to region or from country to country, innovation always suggests the creative mobilization of tangible and intangible assets in view of inventing and commercializing new ideas (Box I.1). It is a question of combining human resources and financial means, production and communication technologies, regulations and norms as well as cultural and professional values, and aligning them with a political and/or strategic value-creating vision. This is true for the scale of a firm, a territory, a region or a nation.
Even if, today, the definition of innovation in terms of process elicits a broad consensus on behalf of researchers and practitioners, many questions are still open: