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Posted by on Jan 18, 2018 in Forthcoming Events |

Innovation Ecosystems, Upgrading, and Regional Development, June 6-7 (UNICAMP campus)


The geography of economic activity in the 21st century represents a key concern for businesses, policymakers, and academics alike (Asheim and Gertler, 2005; Cooke et al., 2011; Audretsch and Belitski, 2017; Audretsch et al., 2006). To thrive, places must be capable of consistently generating wealth, jobs, innovation and opportunities in an everchanging socioeconomic and technological environment (Katz and Wagner, 2014). Nonetheless, the world of innovation and entrepreneurship is not flat but rather spiky: innovative firms and entrepreneurs tend to agglomerate (Stam, 2009; Feldman, 2001). Moreover, evidence suggests that the impacts of entrepreneurial activity can be mainly felt at the regional level (Acs and Armington, 2004), placing entrepreneurial ecosystems as a key aspect of public policy (Borissenko and Boschma, 2016). This is particularly critical in the context of developing economies struggling to reach an innovation-driven path for their productive structure. Moreover, the geography of innovation in these nations is frequently skewed towards some mega cities and their metropolitan areas introducing significant diseconomies of agglomeration (Fischer et al, forthcoming).

The concept of the regional innovation ecosystem has in recent years drawn a lot of attention in the fields of technological change and innovation, entrepreneurship studies, economic geography and urban economics and has gained popularity with policy decision makers (Cooke et al., 2011; Boschma, 2005). Innovation and entrepreneurship are believed to be subject to increasing returns to scale as a function of agglomeration economies and the existence of a multidimensional socio-economic environment that fosters heterogeneous location of innovation. Moreover, knowledge intensive entrepreneurship (KIE) is highly dependent on local endowments in terms of knowledge, institutions, resources and demand (Malerba et al., 2015). Yet, innovation systems differ in terms of “entrepreneurial propensity”, i.e., the capacity to generate and exploit innovation-oriented opportunities. This is the underlying rationale of the concept of innovation ecosystems.

The fact that KIE is deeply embedded in local contexts (Radosevic and Yoruk, 2013) poses fundamental challenges for analysts and policymakers, as one-size-fits-all initiatives and analytical models can be deemed inappropriate for most locations. The economic mechanisms that shape evolutionary trends in entrepreneurship are not of a linear nature and they operate differently in distinct locations with varying historical backgrounds (Boschma and Martin, 2010).

In the context of developed economies, enabling conditions are strongly related to physical proximity, understood as an important feature of urban agglomerations, providing access to markets and, more importantly, to ideas. Densely populated areas provide a larger pool of individuals who can engage in innovation, entrepreneurship and creative endeavors (Glaeser, 2011; Feldman and Kogler, 2010; Stam, 2009). Large metropolitan areas are expected to have a disproportionately stronger activity of inventors than smaller cities (Florida et al., 2016; Li et al., 2016; Bettencourt et al., 2007). Emerging economies have tried to learn from these and have looked upon themselves to understand the specific contexts that will provide the socio-techno-economic ‘infrastructure’ to move in similar directions. There is, however, lesser direct evidence and shared understanding for developing/emerging economies (Glaeser, 2014; Fischer et al., forthcoming), especially those struggling to overcome the phenomena described by the terms “post-middle-income trap” and “catching-up” (Lee 2013; Lee, 2016; Lee and Malerba, 2017). Their efforts to address the multi-faceted challenge have attracted increasing attention to the role of technology upgrading in this process (Radosevic and Yuruk 2016). Researchers, policy makers, and practitioners struggle with a number of complex questions, many of which relate on local-global interfaces (World Bank, 2015; Fu et al., 2011; Pietrobelli and Staritz, 2017).

While several successes have already been reported in the literature, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners continue to struggle with a number of complex questions:

  • Research finds that local level interactions and economic structure is key for innovation and KIE: How can cities/regions in emerging economies develop an economic structure to attract and generate innovation and KIE?
  • Innovation and KIE are systemic phenomena and include many interactions between many local and global agents and are connected through feedback loops. What is the role of city-level initiatives in building an environment conducive to interactions between multiple agents aiming at achieving innovation-driven growth? What is the role of existing ventures in supporting the early stages of KIE? What is the relative importance of multinational agents in these matters?
  • KIE emergence is affected by both agglomeration economies and diseconomies, such as those related to crime, land rents, infrastructure and local amenities. What is the role of local-level policy in addressing these issues and how it affects the potential for innovative endeavors?
  • Connection to Global Value Chains (GVCs) has impact on local firms’ productivity and growth. How can city-level initiatives in developing economies foster local SMEs and KIE connections with Global Value Chains and encourage MNE to establish presence in these cities?

Recent reviews have shown that the literature is moving in new directions indicating higher levels of complexity (Isaksen and Trippl, 2017; Stam and Spigel, 2016).


This conference will provide insights into these complex questions by addressing a series of topics, concentrating on evidence from and lessons for emerging economies. It will consider knowledge entrepreneurship to include both small entrepreneurial companies as well as corporate entrepreneurship in well established incumbents which is of great importance to emerging economies. Specific areas of concentration will be:

    • 1. Business Demography: birth/entry, survival, death/exit, growth. Geography of
      Knowledge-Intensive Enterprises (KIE)

Factors contributing to business demography dispersion across regions/countries: quality of local governance, R&D expenditures, workforce education, business-friendly regulations, financing constraints. Emphasis on KIEs.

    • 2. Barriers to Innovation for Small Business. Space specificities

The literature has named a long series of potential financial and non-financial barriers to innovation such as excessive risk, high innovation cost, lack of finance, organizational rigidity, lack of qualified personnel, lack of information technology, insufficient market information, legislation, regulation, standards, and lack of technical services. Such barriers affect the impact on innovation of firm-specific factors (size, R&D expenditures, knowledge acquisition and adaptation, IPRs), network-related factors (external sources of funding and information, cooperation), and government-support factors (innovation funding, public procurement, tax breaks and subsidies).

    • 3. Regional Innovation Ecosystem, Smart Specialization, Global Value Chains (GVCs)

Scholars have underlined the importance of interactions between elements of an entrepreneurial system. Arguably entrepreneurial activity should be studied at the regional level and in close proximity with regional and sectoral innovation systems, stressing networks, learning, interactions, as well as strong linkages of local actors and international players such as multinational corporations. The rapid spread of Global Value Chains during the past few decades introduce a particularly significant element to consider. Important fuzzy areas remain, nonetheless, such as our understanding of the institutional context of interactions, including the role of universities and public research institutes. Smart specialization has emerged as a place-based approach to analyze the strengths and potential of an economy and identify strategic areas for policy intervention.

    • 4. Social Inclusion. Regional Employment Dynamics, Culture, Local Knowledge


The concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has been promoted to indicate broader inclusion in research and innovation activities. Societal actors – researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organizations, others – are supposed to work in concert together to ensure better alignment of T&I outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society. Regions often demonstrate their own population dynamics, culture, historical precedents, and educational achievements which could play a useful role in informing public policy on research, innovation and socio-economic development.


8:30-9:00 Registration – light snacks
9:00-9:30 Openning / Welcome
9:30-10:30 Keynote 1: Innovation Ecosystems: Taking Stock
11:00-13:30 Session 1: Business Demography. KIE Geography, Emerging Economies
14:00-15:30 Lunch
15:30-17:30 Session 2: Barriers to Innovation for Small Business. Space specificities
17:30-18:30 Keynote 2: Technology Upgrading and Economic Catching-Up
19:30-22:00 Dinner


8:45-9:00 Welcome Day 2
9:30-10:30 Keynote 3: The Local and the Global: Regional Ecosystems and GVCs
11:00-13:30 Session 3: Regional Innovation Ecosystems, Smart Specialization, GVCs
14:00-15:30 Lunch
15:30-17:00 Session 4: Social Inclusion. Regional Employment Dynamics, Culture,
Local Knowledge
17:00-18:30 Roundtable: Policy Relevance
18:30-19:00 Conclusion, Future Steps
19:30-22:00 Dinner



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