This paper investigates the regional innovation system (RIS) efficiency, and its determinants, in Italy through a stochastic frontier analysis and using the concept of a knowledge production function. The contribution of university, private and public sector resources devoted to research and development (R&D), in generating innovation, has been examined, as well as the impact of several exogenous environmental variables on RIS efficiency. The empirical findings are in favour of the importance of R&D investments taking place in the universities and in the private sector, which benefit the most to regional innovation activities; the evidence also suggests the relevance of the knowledge context in which the firms operate as the existence of an intermediation structure, such as a university technology transfer office, has an important role on the innovation process. State-level policies can be detrimental for overall efficiency, and instead special interventions for regions in the Southern area should be designed.
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