Urenio Watch Watch: Innovation

New book: Quantitative Methods for Place-Based Innovation Policy_ Measuring the Growth Potential of Regions

Building on the experience of more than one hundred innovation strategies for smart specialisation, this book uncovers insights into their recent implementation by regional and national governments in the European Union. The authors provide new reflections on the conceptual approaches for the identification of innovation priorities, the data required, the methods with which to turn data into useful information, and the mapping of the information available. Although designed to boost the competitiveness of Europe and its regions, chapters analyse why the implementation of this policy model was much more complicated than expected.

Four basic dimensions of mapping for innovation policies are presented, together with the way they can be meaningfully combined and complemented. The authors underline how the economic, scientific, innovation and societal potential of cities, regions and countries can be measured, and how these insights can inform policy-making. Throughout the book, mapping is understood as a quantitative analytical exercise using available data presented at the territorial (sub-national) level.

This book provides options of methods that are applicable to both emerging economies and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, albeit with different degrees of suitability.  The authors propose ways of dealing with economic and societal challenges, in both dynamic metropolitan and remote rural areas.

Strong attention is payed to the preparation of ‘˜knowledge bases’ for policy discussions and their uptake by practitioners. Towards that direction, the authors consider ‘˜what if’ type approaches that reflect on a number of potential options discussing ‘˜holes and gaps’ and thus pushing for experimenting with different methods for different purposes.


The book is structured around two complementary parts.

Part I contains methods and data towards an understanding of the industrial fabric of territories on which innovation should be anchored:

  • Chapter 2, by Henning Kroll, presents a method to map economic specialisation.
  • Chapter 3, by Frank van Oort, Nicola Cortinovis, Teodora Dogaru and Jeroen van Haaren, introduces the concepts of related variety and relatedness in the European Union, and discusses how this links to the entrepreneurial search process and innovative structural change in regional contexts.
  • Chapter 4, by Giovanni Mandras and Andrea Conte, deals with the phenomenon of global value chains (GVCs), representing networks of production and trade across countries.

Part II is concentrated on the mapping of regional innovation and the territorial conditions that favour innovation activities:

  • Chapter 5, by Roberta Capello and Camilla Lenzi, provides a taxonomy of innovative regions that can be a useful policy tool to support fully decentralised regional innovation policy approaches.
  • Chapter 6, by Hugo Hollanders and Monika Matusiak, presents a method to identify smart specialisation priority domains through an economic analysis that is able to highlight economic specialisations using detailed industry-level data on employment, value added, wages and exports.
  • Chapter 7, by Susana Franco, Carlo Gianelle, Alexander Kleibrink and Asier Murciego, presents a novel database that is covering all European Union regions, and constructs a full matrix of regional pairwise distances resulting from the aggregation of several dimensions.
  • Chapter 8, by Enric Fuster, Francesco A. Massucci and Monika Matusiak, focuses on new methods that can be used at the interface of science and policy for the identification of the localised domains of specialisation in science and technology.

The design of the next generation of more than 100 innovation strategies in Europe is beginning. This book’ s insights into how the economic, scientific, innovative and societal potential of cities, regions and countries can be measured will be useful for policy-makers looking to learn from the smart specialisation of Europe. The value added of it lies in the presentation of new conceptual thinking, new data and methods for their interpretation. It shows how both conceptual and methodological developments have changed the way it is possible to map interesting information for policymakers and stakeholders for sustaining place-based innovation policies.

Edited by:

  • Roberta Capello, Professor of Regional and Urban Economics, Politecnico di Milano, Italy,
  • Alexander Kleibrink, European Research Centre for Anti-Corruption and State-Building, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany and
  • Monika Matusiak, Senior Policy Officer, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Seville, Spain.

Find the book here.