Less developed regions with traditional, less knowledge intensive, sectors (e.g. agriculture,food processing or tourism) need to be aware that RTD investments might have only a limited impact on their economic performance, at least in the short to medium term. It should be accepted that these regions are specialised in activities that are not highly research intensive, therefore increased R&D expenditures cannot be easily absorbed by regional actors. In these situations, setting up of new research centres that are not linked to the needs of the regional economy could be like building "cathedrals in the desert" as they are unlikely to be able to develop the hoped-for synergies with local economic actors.
Among the cases looked at, the most prominent example of this is the creation of the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH) in Crete in the 1980s, as a part of the Greek central government's push for decentralisation. FORTH became the largest public research institute in Greece, but it has limited links to the regional economy.
FORTH's world-class scientists are collaborate with their counterparts all over the world but no strong synergies have been developed with the private sector in areas of scientific excellence (i.e. biotechnology, laser astrophysics and materials technology) over the more than two decades since the institute's creation