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Regional Philanthropy and Innovation in the Heilbronn-Franconia Region
How can philanthropy, especially when regionally focused, positively influence the innovativeness of regions? This is the key issue of the presented research project.
Inventors often have difficulties to obtain funding or seed capital in early stages of their research with their invention not yet being marketable. Cutbacks in state funding on the one hand and the extension of civil society structures and welfare-orientated giving and funding on the other lead to intensive international discussions about the potentials of civil society in recent years. New forms of philanthropic giving are often strategic and combine activities orientated towards the common good with business thinking. Especially the field of venture philanthropy, where the concept of venture capital is applied to welfare-orientated giving, might lead to new chances of non-market funding for researchers and inventors in their early stages and thus might result in positive effects on the innovativeness and economic development of regions.
Built on previous research we argue that regional philanthropy depends on three key conditions: (i) the structure of civil society and the regional endowment with local wealth and philanthropic donors, (ii) the structure of the regional economy, and (iii) the structure of informal and organizational networks between philanthropists and foundations on the one hand and creative entrepreneurs within public as well as private institutions on the other.
Using a multi-method approach of media-analysis, qualitative interviews and social network analysis, we intend to capture the directions and amount of welfare-orientated capital flows directed to innovation-generating donees, the underlying motivations and the circumstances and necessary framework conditions. From this, we hope to gain perspectives on the potentials of philanthropy for regions and to formulate concepts on how to activate these for regional development.