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Innovative Places in Europe

Research Clustering, Co-Patenting Networks and the Growth of Regions


Julian Phillip Christ

Regional disparities and spatial clustering are ubiquitous in today’s world. This study contributes with empirical findings on the distribution of European research and patenting activity since the 1980s at the regional level. Besides a general theoretical part, it offers a quantitative clustering analysis, which makes use of EPO patent applications and a harmonized regional and technological classification. Moreover, the pan-European study incorporates a structural analysis of inter-regional co-patenting networks at the regional and technological level that covers the 1990s and 2000s. Finally, European regional income and growth disparities are addressed by placing emphasis on the spatial distribution of research activity and the regional settlement structure.


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3. Innovative Places, Research Clustering and Co-Agglomeration in Europe


3.1. Analyzing Research Clustering in Europe A first step towards a better understanding of research clustering is to measure the spa- tial distribution of researchers and patenting activity and to identify research clusters by means of a harmonized descriptive approach. Researchers in the regional economics and economic geography tradition have long since established the necessity to identify, analyze and explain regional disparities and spatial concentration; in this respect, they considered the identification and analysis of “core–periphery structures” as the central issue within the research agenda. However, Martin and Sunley (2003, 24) argued that “[t]here is no agreed method for identifying and mapping clusters, either in terms of the key variables that should be measured or the procedures by which the geograph- ical boundaries of clusters should be determined.” Harris (1954), among others, proposed the so-called “market potential approach” (see also Schu¨rmann and Talaat, 2002; Head and Mayer, 2004). This spatial concept aims at cal- culating an indicator of market potential at the regional level, taking into account the size of economic markets in the vicinity of the county corrected for the spatial distance to the market. Similarly, Keeble et al. (1982) constructed a “peripherality index” based on the European NUTS1 level. Copus (1999) calculated a similar index for 1,105 European regions at the NUTS3 level, which aims to explore core-periphery structures. Although industrial organization and production theories have already found their place in geograph- ical economics, theories on research clustering, inventorship and innovation were missing...

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