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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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5. Research Clustering, Income Disparities and the Growth of Regions in Europe


5.1. Analyzing Regional Disparities and Growth Having explored spatial concentration, clustering and inter-regional co-patenting networks across Europe and the ERA in the former chapters 3 and 4, the following analysis will be shifted towards regional income disparities and regional growth. Spatial income inequality (i.e., non-normal spatial distribution of income) is a phenomenon that determines the structure of both leading industrialized regions and regions in transi- tion. According to Scott and Storper (2003), considering globalization as a simple spreading out of economic activity into a fluid “space of flows” seems to be a fundamental mistake. The analyses in the former chapters have already pointed out the persistence of clustering and geographic concentration of research activity across European regions. Thus, global- ization is supposed to be accompanied by persistent agglomerative tendencies. As Scott and Storper (2003, 582) argued, “[i]n sum, large-scale agglomeration - and its counterpart, regional economic special- ization - is a worldwide and historically persistent phenomenon that is identifying greatly at the present time as a consequence of the forces unleashed by globalization. This leads us to claim that national economic development today is likely not to be less but rather more tied up with processes of geographical concentration compared with the past.” With respect to the European regional development, it is especially important to analyze the spatial distribution of the gross domestic product (GDP) at the regional level. Al- though the European member countries seem to converge with respect to economic activity at the national level, several existing...

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