How Places and Policies Drive Innovative Solutions for a Better World:

Spatial determinants and policy levers for sustainability-oriented and transformative innovation

Over the past few decades, there has been growing research on sustainability transformation in cities and regions and the role innovation plays in such transformation. Particularly relevant for this project are innovation studies and economic geography research on mapping and explaining the uneven geographical landscape of "sustainability-oriented innovations". However, there are still many research gaps in this field. One important aspect concerns the question of which factors lead to the formation of clusters in sustainability-oriented innovation activities. Further research is also needed to better understand the role of spatial factors (e.g. agglomeration effects, transregional production and knowledge networks, labour mobility, infrastructure and accessibility) that lead to the emergence and diffusion of such innovations. In addition, there are relevant conceptual developments related to the concepts of "transformative innovation" and "transformative innovation policy" whose empirical relevance needs to be further investigated.

The project has three key objectives:

  • to further the understanding of spatial factors (economic linkages, market characteristics, agglomeration forces, knowledge and actor networks) conditioning the emergence and spreading of sustainability-oriented innovations.
  • to develop a conceptualization of transformative innovation that would be empirically relevant and approachable with spatial analysis methods at the firm level as well as at the level of cities and regions.
  • building on the developed conceptualization, to conduct further empirical work focusing on the (comparative) study of transformative innovation determinants as well as of relevant policy levers (such as transformative innovation policy). This is to be carried out with through the collaboration with the IOER-RDC.

Research questions

  1. Which spatial factors and policy levers influence cluster formation in and dynamics of sustainability-oriented innovation activities?
  2. How can transformative innovation be conceptualized and empirically approached with spatial analysis methods? Which aspects of transformative innovation are measurable and which data need to be collected?
  3. Which spatial factors affect the capacity of cities and regions to generate sustainability-oriented and transformative innovation? Which differences within and between core and peripheral areas can be established? Which policy implications can be drawn?

Expected results
The project results will be interesting for actors who can influence transformative innovation through policy levers (such as transformative innovation policies). The outcomes should include a better understanding of transformative innovation processes and transformative innovation capacities of cities and regions, as well as new insights for transformative innovation policy development. The project will generate research articles as well as content for exchange formats such as IOER Forum and special sessions at international conferences.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.