A Local Innovation Systems (LIS) is defined as an innovative network characterized by the heterogeneous nature and the spatial proximity of the actors, presenting a high level of social embeddedness and a base of analytical knowledge. On the other hand, academic research on port community systems considers ports as complex systems where mechanisms of coordination and cooperation between local partners play a crucial role in supporting the competitiveness and the efficiency of the port itself. Few studies have combined to date, the perspective of port community as a complex system with the complex nature of innovation systems. The paper provides an original theoretical framework to study port communities from a local innovation system perspective. In particular, the article investigates the elements of complexity typical of a LIS in the specific case of Port Community Systems. The article will focus on the localised nature of innovation processes within a Port Community System as well as the existence of inter-organizational relationships occurring among actors of heterogeneous nature (i.e. firms, local institutions and research organizations). These relationships will be analysed according to the innovative value of the economic externalities they are able to produce and according to their ability to confer economic value to the results of academic research.
Keywords: Local innovation systems, triple helix, port community, port competitiveness, port of Rotterdam, spatial proximity