RALIS: Rapid Appraisal of Local Innovation Systems

Competitiveness is based on innovation. Any company that wants to thrive in a globalised economy has to constantly innovate. Innovation is shaped by the structure and the pattern of interaction in an innovation system. Innovation systems have a territorial dimension. Any location that wants to prosper in a globalised economy needs to constantly upgrade its innovation system. For more information on our thinking on innovation and its relationship to competition please also visit our Improving Innovation Systems and Competitiveness from the bottom up theme page.

RALIS is a robust, practical method to swiftly analyse a territorial innovation system in a participatory and action-oriented way. Since it is informed by the Innovation System school of thought, it does not only look at issues of technology development and transfer, but also at the wider environment that is shaping the innovation behaviour of companies and other organisations, and their pattern of interaction.

A Rapid Appraisal of a Local Innovation System can be conducted in just two weeks, generating a solid analysis of a location or a cluster, launching or strengthening the process of interaction between key actors, and generating practical proposals for action that lend themselves to swift implementation, thus rending tangible results in a short period of time.

The RALIS toolkit offers a variety of instruments that can be constantly used by companies and other organisations in an innovation system to reflect on their practice, identify new opportunities and improve their performance. RALIS paves the way for the use of other tools, such as benchmarking, cluster development or value chain upgrading.

A RALIS exercise can help an intermediary such as a Technology Station, Technology Transfer Centre, universities, Science Parks, Incubator and Industry Associations to refine and improve its public and private service offerings to an industry. The method is used to both stimulate the technological upgrading of an industry (outward focus) and to develop the organization(s) hosting the diagnosis (inward looking).

Shawn Cunningham spends most of his time applying and further developing the RALIS methodology. He regularly posts his insights on his personal blogpage. Christian Schoen is one of the two original developers of the RALIS methodology, and is the co-author of the first RALIS publication

If you work on the technological upgrading and modernization of industries and wish to stay informed of our publications and training events, then make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter.If you require more information on RALIS and how it can be applied, then e-mail Shawn Cunningham at sc[at]