Regional Innovation Ecosystems

Despite predictions about the globalization of innovative activities, they are still very much physically rooted and spatially clustered. As such, in the face of increased international competition for jobs, capital, and talent, cities, regions and countries have prioritized building and supporting innovation “ecosystems” to promote economic growth. Regional policies, programs and institutions have emerged to support innovative entrepreneurship, risk capital investment, industry cluster formation and translational research in an effort to enhance innovation capacity and performance.


This course engages students in both the theoretical underpinnings of innovation ecosystems, as well as an empirical examination of how and why they emerge (or conversely, why they might not), how they are composed, and how they impact the wider communities in which they are rooted. The course will draw upon literature from economics, sociology, planning and management to build foundational knowledge. It will examine key structural components that constitute regional innovation systems such as cooperative networks, infrastructure provisions, universities and research organizations, entrepreneurship and industrial clusters; and engage in analysis of specific case studies in industries and regions from both the developed and developing world to better examine their growth dynamics. Several guest speakers will join the class throughout the course and discuss their experience developing and studying innovation ecosystems.