Urenio Watch Watch: Publications on Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

New paper on the impact of Smart City policies on urban innovation

This article “Smart innovative cities: The impact of Smart City policies on urban innovation”, the authors look at the urban innovation impact of smart city policies. Based on the observation that there is no statistical evidence suggesting the existence of a positive association between the implementation of Smart City policies and urban economic performance, the authors try to shed light on this issue. To work on this issue, they collected and analysed data on 309 European metropolitan areas regarding smart city features, smart city policy intensity and urban innovation outputs.


Smart City policies have attracted relevant attention and funding over the last few years. While the time seems now ripe to conclude that such policies have a positive impact on urban economic growth, the picture is much less clear when looking at the microfoundations of this effect.

In this paper, we look at the urban innovation impact of Smart City policies. In fact, typical Smart City project simply the involvement not only of major multinational corporations, along with local public authorities, but also of local companies, typically with the aim to translate general technological solutions to the local needs.

A new data set collected for these analyses comprises data on Smart City features for 309 European metropolitan areas, Smart City policy intensity, and urban innovation outputs. The latter are proxied by calculating total patent applications to the European Patent Office between 2008 and 2013. Patent counts also include technologically narrower classes, namely high-tech, ICT, and specific Smart City technologies patent applications.

Propensity Score Matching estimates suggest that cities engaging in Smart City policies above the EU average also tend to patent more intensively. This effect is stronger for high-tech patents, while decreases for more narrowly defined technological classes. This last result suggests possible technological spillovers from technologies directly involved in Smart City policies.

Propensity Score Procedure

The indicator built on the basis of the intensity of Smart City policies is classified in two classes, viz. cities above and below the mean of Smart City policy intensity. The two types of cities identified on the basis of the sample of cities for which data have been collected is shown in the figure below, with black areas representing cities with a Smart City policy intensity above the EU mean, and light grey shapes indicating cities with a Smart City policy intensity below the EU mean

europe_map_caragliu and bo 2019
Treated and untreated cities, highlighting smart city policy intensity below and above the mean. Source: Authors’ elaboration