Regional innovation has been incorporated into planning debates broadening the view of the crucial role that networks play in regional development as vehicles of knowledge and innovation. Research in this area has focused on the effects of the 'innovative milieu' (Maillat 1991; Kogut et al. 1993: Capello 1999; Camagni 1999) and recently into systems of innovation as a way to explain innovation at the regional level (Storper 1995: Landabaso 1997; de La Mothe & Paquet 1998: Cooke 2001). However, less research has been done into the meaning of regional collaboration structures, their measurement and their effects on regional development.
This paper discusses collaboration systems such as clusters and development networks as they enable innovation in regions. The paper argues that collaboration infrastructure has tangible and intangible effects in regional development that make it a critical infrastructure to be developed in regions, especially those suffering economic decline. The paper will present the case of the Hunter region of NSW as an example of tangible and intangible effects of a collaboration network.