This paper investigates the role played by the position of European regions in research networks on their rate of innovation and economic growth. The analysis is based on a panel of EU-28 NUTS2 regions participating in EU Framework Programmes observed over the 2004-2014 period. We find that regions that are more central in the network (higher strength centrality) and those that are surrounded by highly inter-connected regions (higher clustering index) show higher rates of innovation and higher economic growth. We also find that while the strength centrality affects growth only indirectly (i.e. through its impact on innovation), the clustering index shows a positive effect on growth both directly and indirectly. The position in the network has a different impact on innovation in regions belonging to different socio-economic groups and with different levels of development. We discuss the implications of these findings to better address research and innovation policies in Europe.
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