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Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Helsinki University of Technology, October 2002. Innovative Places: Networks and the Virtual Rob Shields, Professor Carleton University, Ottawa Canada. 4 Explanations of innovative cities and regions :. 1. ‘ Growth Poles’

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4 explanations of innovative cities and regions

Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Helsinki University of Technology, October 2002.Innovative Places: Networks and the VirtualRob Shields, ProfessorCarleton University, Ottawa Canada

4 explanations of innovative cities and regions
4 Explanations of Technology,of innovative cities and regions:

1. ‘Growth Poles’

Traditional Agglomeration and Business Cycle theory (Schumpeter, Marshall)

-innovations are concentrated in cities because they are more hospitable environments for the incubation and formation of new firms in part due to the agglomeration of potential inputs.

-received wisdom until the 1970s

>widely critiqued (also by Schumpeter himself)

4 explanations of innovative cities and regions

  • 2. of Technology,Innovative Milieux / New Industrial Districts

  • Competitive Networks (Piore and Sabel 1984, Becatini 1990, GREMI)

  • -suppliers, producers, education institutions

    -national chains link producers to consumers

    -smaller firms concentrate to build and share local supply chains and skilled labour pools (institutional analysis; Scott 1990; Storper 1995)

    -firms spin-off innovative units locally but address international markets

    -typical of regional innovation clusters (Po Valley etc.)

    >doesn’t clarify causal linkages: do innovative places create innovative firms or vice versa?

4 explanations of innovative cities and regions

3. of Technology,Learning regions / Knowledge Economy

Knowledge economy theories (Lundvall 1992)

-Scandinavian (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)

-some local innovation systems are better at acquiring and using new knowledge than others because they are adaptable and have a highly knowledgeable labour force.

-Movement of labour between firms creates a system of learning and knowledge transfer

>what is knowledge?

>over-emphasizes the firm

4 explanations of innovative cities and regions

4. of Technology,Clusters, ‘Silicon Valley’

Competitive supply chain theory (Krugman 1991; Porter 1990)

-regional specializations and high quality local factors (supporting industries, firms, public sector) geared to demanding local and national clients/customers encounter international trading opportunities

-‘virtuous circle’ of innovation and competitiveness

>over-emphasizes local quality of rivalry/collaboration and of ‘best practice’ suppliers

>theory-lag: clusters increasingly found to be locally-specific. Can’t generalize

4 explanations of innovative cities and regions

Recent evidence of Technology,

-Innovation is concentrated in core metropolitan centres

-clustering is most typical of mature and primary industries, not high tech nor high productivity sectors.

-innovation systems and their geographies vary from country to country

-markets are international

-customers are demanding

-attract and retain specialized professional technical labour

(Feldman 1994; Hilpert 1992; CEC DG XII 1999; OECD 2001; Simmie et al 2002)

4 explanations of innovative cities and regions

Innovation in Regional Metropolises of Technology,

-hold indigenous labour and attract labour via ‘quality of life’

-language, regionalism

-local specialists can understand and apply cutting edge

ideas from elsewhere

-local competitive advantages

-distinctive technologies / training

-key universities/research facilities

-high-speed telecommunications / international airports

-spatial and temporal proximity of key suppliers

-access to national public sector demand and key large clients

  • (Simmie et al 2002; ISRN 2001; 2002)

Sustaining innovation

Convergence of Technology,

‘Picking winners’

vs. Emergence


Sustaining Innovation

Role of public sector in promoting sustainability: -view of the whole

-view of everyday life as lived in place

-importance of strategic scale (regional?)

Sustainable innovation
Sustainable Innovation? of Technology,

  • Social reproduction in time and space

    • Long term view of particular importance

    • Soft Infrastructure (idealities)

      • Culture and civil society

      • Managing social spatialization

        • ‘Magnet’ effects


    • Hard Infrastructure (actualities)

      • Services, transportation networks

      • ecological sustainability

        (Shields 2001; 2002)

Images of innovative places
Images of Innovative Places of Technology,

-‘Place’ is in many ways invisible and intangible.

-One only sees how ‘innovative places’ are actualized.

-Only certain Innovation ‘Affordances’ are taken up.

-Other affordances remain ‘virtual’

  • Virtual vs. concrete

    -Place is an entanglement of the virtual and concrete

     ‘Everyday Life’ is a synthesis of these

The virtual and the concrete
The virtual and the concrete of Technology,

Matrix of the forms of the real and possible, the ideal and actual

Real (existing) Possible (representations)

Ideal : virtual abstract

Actual : material probability (%)

Summary and conclusions
Summary and Conclusions of Technology,

  • Reviewed 4 explanations of innovative places

  • Recent evidence: no single explanation gives the whole story

Summary and conclusions1
Summary and Conclusions of Technology,

What roles can the public sector can play?

  • Important vantage point

    • Scale of space-time of planning framework

  • Sustainable innovation

  • Recognize that virtualities are real

  • Manage their relation to the concrete

    • Actualizing virtualities for collective long term benefits

    • Images/affordances/culture  Quality of local everyday life

  • rshields@ccs.carleton.ca