A major new research report co-authored by Professor James Simmie, Dr Juliet Carpenter, and Andrew Chadwick of OISD : UPM (and Department of Planning) with Professor Ron Martin of Cambridge University suggests ‘history matters’ in understanding which are the most and least successful city regions in Britain.
The new report, published by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), is entitled ‘History Matters: Path Dependence and Innovation in British City Regions’, and focuses on evolutionary economics and models of path dependence to explain differences in growth and performance amongst Britain’s city regions over the last 20 years.
In the context of the impending global economic recession, understanding what makes for successful city regions is vital if we are to understand the big picture within our major conurbations. At the heart of this is the concept of ‘innovation’ which is commercial exploitation of new knowledge and ideas, driven by research investment, science park growth and the links between universities and commerce and business.
Buoyed by the success of Silicon Valley, Hsinchu region, or Helsinki, innovation is seen by leading regions as the key to staying ahead; in those that lag, as an opportunity to catch up. The result has been a plethora of ambitious innovation strategies. Unfortunately, the common thread has often been under-delivery.
The results of this new research contain important lessons for national and regional economic policymakers. Developing new ‘pathways’ for economic development depends, to a large degree, on a city-region’s local innovation system and absorptive capacity. However, individual policy interventions are likely to have little impact on economic development if they do not take into account previous economic structures and their legacy. Perhaps most importantly, policymakers must be patient and allow major interventions time to bear fruit.
Jonathan Kestenbaum CEO, NESTA in his foreword to the report writes:
“This work feeds into a wider body of work that deals with the spatial aspects of innovation policy. Its insights underpin many of the practical programmes we have underway at NESTA and it forms the backdrop to our work with the nations, cities and regions that make up the UK”.
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