The concept of “the learning region” has emerged from a history of attempts to name and describe the characteristics of places that respond successfully to the competitive challenges presented by a knowledge-based economy. Michael Piore outlined the components that define successful regional innovation systems and industrial districts in 1990, laying the groundwork for an extension of the regional innovation system to a broader conception of regional attributes associated with innovative economies (Amin 1999; Scott 1992, 1998; Sengenberger et al. 1990; Storper 2002):

Thus far, the literature seems basically to have identified a list of factors that are critical to success. The standard lists include: 1) a major research university, 2) an academic tradition, or ethos, which encourages researchers to engage in practical activities and which is not hostile to linkage between the academic and business community, 3) venture capital or, more precisely, a local financial community with both the resources and the willingness to provide funds for start-up enterprises; and 4) a local entrepreneurial tradition and a reservoir of expertise on the management of start-up business. The attempts to create new [high tech] regions have essentially tried to create the institutions on the list.