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Technological specialisation in European regions and metropolitan areas: drivers and effects

A wide knowledge base is a distinctive property of local economic systems which contributes to the innovative capabilities of local firms and supports regional economic growth by favouring their entry into new industries. When heterogeneous complementary skills are clustered in the geographical space, they exert positive effects through the so-called “Jacobs externalities”, being expected to engender a creative recombination of knowledge. These ideas have inspired a set of recent policy initiatives at the European level, urging policymakers to identify and pursue specific specialisation patterns in the allocation of public resources for regional industrial policies.

The seminar will present the results of empirical studies on the effects and drivers of the process of technological diversification or specialisation in 260 European regions (NUTS2) and 417 metropolitan areas (NUTS3 in Europe and the U.S.) during the past two decades. We measure the diversification of the technological knowledge of an area by exploiting a large database of more than 3 million patent applications (and more than 7 million inventors) and applying the Hidalgo and Hausman (2008) method of reflections. Patents have been mapped onto an array of about 650 different technological domains. First, we look for correlation patterns between specialisation and regional competitiveness indicators. Secondly, we investigate the impact of high-skilled migration on the capability of a city to extend the array of technological skills and to enter into more “rare” technologies. Econometric results indicate the presence of a significant positive association between knowledge variety and economic performance. At the same time, the relationship between high-skilled migration and diversification is less straightforward. We observe on average a negative correlation that suggests the prevalence of a specialty-matching process. However, high-skilled migration turns to be positively associated to the capability to enter more “complex” technologies. The average effect of migration is mostly driven by high-density metropolitan areas.

 

The seminar will take place on Tuesday 10th October, 11:15 – 12:30, at Centro Interdipartimentale FULL (Toolbox Coworking, Turin), presented by Federico Caviggioli (DIGEP – PoliTO) and Giuseppe Scellato (DIGEP – PoliTO)

 

The seminar takes part of Future Urban Legacy Lab Seminar series and will provide grounds for discussion with PhD students about methodological issues, policy implications, and potential developments of the study along different research paths.

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