Technology-based economic development has been a highly sought-after objective for regions in developed and developing countries alike. The wealth created by regional knowledge-based economies like Silicon Valley is an attractive outcome. Without understanding cluster-based economic strategy, the different types of technology-based economic development approaches, the factors that dictate success or failure, and how those factors interrelate within a particular region, then the probability of success is minimal at best.
Economic Development is a process and hence lends itself to a Systems Engineering approach, which was chosen as the methodology for analyzing and designing a better model for studying regions around the world to identify Factors that were both common and key to successful regional development. Each region was viewed as a system with inputs and outputs. The challenge in developing a useful system model is the development of the required Factors and Processes to be used. In the development of the model most of the Factors are internal to the system, but many may be affected by external events. The weighting (importance) of these Factors is the topic of much debate. To develop a baseline of Factors the Delphi method was used. Fortunately, a number of world-wide experts agreed to participate in one on one interviews to analyze these Factors, which in itself added a great deal to the body of knowledge of economic development beyond just the Factors. One obvious result was the essentially unanimous opinion of the group that leadership was the most important factor. A less obvious outcome, but one of equal importance was that there are two classes of regional economic development: one for mass job creation and another for the creation of a knowledge-based regional economy. Often regions undertake economic development without understanding this significant difference. While the model developed can be used for either goal it is extremely important that developers know in advance which goal is being pursued, which is also one of the critical outcomes of strong leadership.
While all indications are that this model is a major improvement over current approaches, because this is a new approach until this research is followed by additional interviews, and by applying the model to actual regional technology-based economic development environments it's validity remains unproven.