Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

OECD Spatial Productivity Lab Policy Sessions at the 5th GeoInno Conference


 30 January 2020 Stavanger, Norway

The Geography of Innovation Conference (GeoInno) provides a forum for discussion to scholars interested in scientific, policy and strategic issues concerning the spatial dimension of innovation activities. In line with the four previous editions of the conference, held in Saint Etienne (France) in 2012, Utrecht (Netherlands) in 2014, Toulouse (France) in 2016 and Barcelona (2018), the main objective of this event is to bring together some of the world’s leading scholars from a variety of disciplines ranging from economic geography and regional science, economics and management science, sociology and network theory, and political and planning sciences.


More Information

Agenda of the OECD Policy Sessions

Official website

The OECD Spatial Productivity Lab


OECD Contacts

[email protected]

The OECD Spatial Productivity Lab Policy Sessions

30 January 2020 | 10:50 - 12:30

Innovation diffusion, industrial landscape and spatial productivity

Moderator: Alexandra Tsvetkova, Economist and Policy Analyst, OECD Trento Centre for Local Development

Innovation is the most important contributor to long-term economic growth. It is not just about “pushing the frontier”, but also about the spread of ideas and technologies throughout the economy. Innovation diffusion (the uptake of innovation by firms and other institutes) is an important mechanism of regional catching-up that leads to more productive regional economies. 

While innovation diffusion, industrial upgrading and productivity performance of a region are all closely linked, academic attention and policy efforts rarely focus on all elements. The insights from academic research can be too general and not applicable in all places. Local policy initiatives can be heavily shaped by past experiences, possibly poorly suited to the new realities. A dialog between scholars and policy practitioners is paramount for the successful design and implementation of local and regional growth strategies that work for all.

Questions for discussion:

  • How to translate innovation into productivity growth and industrial change?
  • Why place matters for innovation diffusion, industrial upgrading and productivity?



30 January 2020 | 13:30 - 15:10

Towards a broad-based innovation policy for all cities and regions

Moderator: Rudiger Ahrend, Head of Unit, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities

To ensure that technological and knowledge diffusion reaches all types of regions a broader approach to innovation policy might be required. There is an increasing body of evidence that weaknesses in technology and knowledge diffusion in the OECD are weighing on productivity growth and innovation, particularly in firms that are distant from the technological frontier (whether global or national). This weakens the capacity of OECD countries to adapt to meet future challenges and undermines inclusive growth. To empower firms in all types of regions to benefit from global trends and technological change, a broad based innovation policy also needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the different capacity and innovation eco systems in different regions and cities.

Innovation policy that adapts to local needs requires a broader approach than a focus on excellence in academic research or firms R&D activities. Universities and firms in some places are pushing the national or global knowledge frontier, but for most regions and cities innovation and upgrading of local firms is driven through other means. Some regions can leverage pockets of excellence, e.g. firms that are highly competitive (often in specific niches) or specialised research centres or academic departments. For other regions, the path towards excellence comes through imported knowledge and links with other regions and multi-national enterprises that (can) help upgrade local firms’ production, their product or service space, etc..

Question for discussion:

  • How can policy makers tailor innovation policy to their city or region to help their firms?


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