Creativity counts

Innovation is key to growth

What’s the magic ingredient that gives certain regions a competitive edge? Research by Professor Leo Sleuwaegen and Priscilla Boiardi of Flanders DC Knowledge Centre at Vlerick Business School indicates that the answer is creativity.

In their study, the researchers first identify the crucial role that three creative processes – innovation, entrepreneurship, and internationalisation – play in a region’s creative performance. They then develop a conceptual model for measuring a region’s creativity, which provides a way of explaining why some regions are better at fostering the perfect conditions for ingenuity. 

The model is constructed of four basic pillars – the ‘4i factors’ – that are fundamental conditions needed to sustain the creative processes:

  • Institutions (and their influence on all economic, political and social interactions in a society)
  • Intelligence (the scope and quality of higher education and life-long learning)
  • Inspiration (which flourishes in a climate of openness)
  • Infrastructure (technologies connected via fast and reliable communication networks)
Implications for policymakers

To help policymakers translate regional entrepreneurial creativity into global market opportunities, the researchers apply their model to Flanders and offer insights that include:

  • Policy should be based on a good understanding of the ways in which institutions, intelligence, inspiration and infrastructure influence creativity and how these 4i factors interact;
  • Education, training and life-long learning offer other ways to leverage a region’s intellectual and inspirational assets. School, vocational and higher education curricula should focus on skills that link creativity with entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalisation;
  • A region’s policies should endeavour to exploit synergies with other regions by building networks based on the generation and use of knowledge.

The core message is that policymakers can drive growth by fortifying the 4i factors that sustain innovation, entrepreneurship and internationalisation.


Fostering ideal conditions for creativity can unlock a region’s potential.

Source: ‘Flanders as a Creative Innovative Region’ by the Flanders DC Knowledge Centre at Vlerick Business School. Research conducted by professor Leo Sleuwaegen and researcher Priscilla Boiardi at Vlerick Business School.

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Creativity counts

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