Innovation and Smart Specialisation

The role of innovation in promoting economic growth is now widely acknowledged.  Yet disparities in regional innovation performance are pervasive and persistent.  Despite more than 20 years of research our understanding of the dynamics of innovation at a regional scale is still evolving.  In part this reflects the complexity of the subject, but is also a measure of how quickly innovation practices are changing.

One of the drivers of this change is the increasing globalisation of the innovation process as changing communication technologies opens up new spaces of activity.  Another is how these same technologies are promoting a more open form of innovation and enabling a greater level of social innovation.  Yet, despite these changes there remains a strong local context to innovation and work on the fashioning of regional and national innovation systems remains highly relevant.

Staff within the Centre for Economic Geography have been formative shapers of academic thinking on regional innovation.  The legacy of their work can be seen in the current approach fostered by the EU to stimulate levels of innovation and growth across the European Union.  As practice has evolved so too has our research and we remain at the forefront of academic debates on the shaping and structuring of 'new' spaces of innovation.

The European Commission has recently introduced the notion of 'smart specialisation' to underpin its approach to stimulating innovation across Europe.  Yet, as with many new policy initiatives, there is much that is unclear about what this means in practice.  CEG is leading a major study examining the implications of the smart specialisation approach across the EU.  Funded by the EU’s FP7 programme it brings together the leading academics in the field from across Europe.

One of the understudied elements of regional innovation is the role of university and business cooperations in the field of education.  Cardiff University is currently leading a major study for DG Education and Culture of the European Commission that aims to fill this gap.  Alongside Imperial College, London and Newcastle University, we are exploring different forms of cooperation across the EU and identifying how to assess the outcomes of this activity.

For information on this research stream please contact Professor Kevin Morgan.