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Space, place and innovation: a distance-based approach

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Innovation is increasingly considered a prerequisite for regional development and it is commonly understood that certain regions are more conducive to innovation than others. Regions that do not possess the required institutional and cultural contexts are often encouraged to work on creating them. However, there is increasing evidence that innovation is also a spatial phenomenon: the propensity of establishments to innovate also varies with their location relative to major and minor metropolitan areas, independent of local context. This article investigates whether the geography of innovation is similar for three different types of manufacturing sectors (high-tech (HT), medium-tech, first and second transformation) and across two different types of innovation (product, process). It is shown that, in Québec, to the extent that geography and innovation are connected, it is principally distance from a metropolitan area that plays a role. Our results lend support toMcCann's (2007)recent spatial model of innovation and are also compatible withDuranton and Puga's (2003)theory of nursery cities. Our results also show that HT innovators behave differently from other manufacturers, with a tendency to internalize their innovation behaviour (perhaps out of necessity or for reasons of secrecy) in more distant locations.

Keywords: distance; développement; fabrication; innovation; manufacturing sectors; métropole; space; urban areas; villes nourricières

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: INRS-Urbanisation, Culture et Société, Université du Québec, Montréal, Québec, Canada H2X 1E3 ( ), Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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