A briefing paper by the Dumfries-based Crichton Institute says the region could capitalise more on assets such as renewable energy potential and its renowned food and drink products to help offset challenges facing the area.
The area struggles with remoteness, an ageing population and transport difficulties, along with a dependence on tourism, according to the paper.
It suggests that building up stronger collaborative relationships could help to boost its economy and encourage investment.
Dr Jane Atterton, co-director of Policy at the Crichton Institute, said: "There have been ongoing challenges to raising the south of Scotland region's profile nationally and beyond. Greater collaboration among the key organisations is recognised by the stakeholders we interviewed as being one route to addressing this.
"The region's research and education institutes have an important role, working together, to generate a robust, independent evidence base to inform and evaluate policy activity by the region's stakeholders.
"The Crichton Institute will play its part through its focus on research, policy, business intelligence and the regional observatory which aims to act as a one-stop access point for information, analysis and evaluation of opportunities and issues facing the area."