Geography of Innovation – International PhD course on Economic Geography

Main theme of the course: Geography of innovation, networks and transitions
Where: Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Part 1: 11 September 13.00 pm – 14 September 18.00 pm
Part 2: 30 October 10.00 pm –2 November 18.00 pm
ECTS for NORSI students: The course gives 7,5 ECTS. The course will be held at Utrecht University but the University of Agder will award the ECTS and issue your transcript.

Faculty and Organizing Institutions

NORSI (Norwegian Research School in Innovation)
University of Stavanger
University of Agder

NORSI coordinator/course organizers
Professor Bjørn T. Asheim, University of Stavanger
Professor Arne Isaksen, University of Agder

Local organizers:
Ron Boschma (Utrecht University/Stavanger University)
Bjorn Asheim (Stavanger University)

Guest lecturers:
Pierre-Alex Balland (Utrecht University)
Abigail Cooke (University of Buffalo)
Alessandra Faggian (Gran Sasso Science Institute)
Rune Fitjar (Stavanger University)
Koen Frenken (Utrecht University)
Simona Iammarino (LSE)
Anders Malmberg (Uppsala University)
Andrea Morrison (Utrecht University)
Andrés Rodriguez-Pose (LSE/University of Stavanger)
Michaela Trippl (University of Vienna/University of Agder)
Bernard Truffer (EAWAG, Utrecht University)
Elvira Uyarra (Manchester University/Western Norway University of Applied Science)


Registration deadline: 1 June 2018.
Registration fee: NORSI students do not need to pay the registration fee.
How to register: NORSI student have to register both with local organiser (Ron Boschma) and NORSI/UiA (Birte):
1. If you are a NORSI student planning to register for the course, please send your application to the local organizer Ron Boschma: with cc on email to Birte M. Horn-Hanssen ( Please see here for more information.
2. In addition NORSI students have to submit additional personal information per email to Birte to get your attendance registered with UiA (the NORSI ECTS granting institution for this course). Please send Birte your name, Norwegian personal number/ date of birth, home address, gender, name of academic institution you belong to, phone number, and confirmation of admittance(letter) to a PhD program.


The course aims to provide an introduction to contemporary research perspectives and approaches in economic geography. The core questions of this discipline – related to the role of place and space in processes of economic development – have in recent years attracted interest not just from geographers but also from economists and other social scientists. This course will debate recent theoretical developments (with special attention to evolutionary and institutional economic geography), and will discuss recent advancements in methodology and empirical analysis in economic geography.
A key theme is the study of the geography of innovation, knowledge, networks and transitions. There is increasing awareness that (different types of) networks enhance knowledge diffusion and innovation. The study of networks is a key topic in economic geography because it deals with the fundamental questions whether places or networks, and local or global networks matter for innovation. In addition, new tools in social network analysis have become available to analyse the role of (local) networks in regional development. Social network analysis has provided new insights to the cluster literature.
Moreover, the spatial configuration of networks also change over time. What drives network dynamics is an emerging topic in economic geography. And, there is an expanding literature on the geography of transition which attracts a lot of attention.

This course takes up the following questions with respect to the main theme: to what extent need firms to be proximate in order to enhance innovation? What kinds of knowledge need to be recombined to enhance regional development? How does the geography of innovation look like? What kinds of network configurations are conducive to regional innovation? Who matters in networks of innovation? And how do networks of innovation evolve over time? How do regions diversify over time? Which types of agents induce structural change in regions? What is the role of migrants for regional development? How do institutions affect the
development of new growth paths? What kind of regional policy is needed to enhance regional innovation? What types of smart specialization policies could work? Which regional features favour the transition towards more sustainable development? And what kinds of institutional, evolutionary) theories are needed to accommodate these questions? It is these questions what makes economic geography such an exciting research field.
Currently, many social scientists besides economic geographers are working on these topics, making it a cross-disciplinary endeavour. It is fair to say that many theoretical, conceptual and empirical issues still remain to be solved. Leading experts that are currently working on these research frontiers will take up these challenges, and discuss the latest insights. Network analysis will take a prominent part. A computer practicum will be organized in which students
will learn to use and apply social and dynamic network analysis. And students learn how to analyze transitions towards sustainable development. PhD students will acquire the latest knowledge concerning these theoretical, methodological and empirical issues.

The organizers will participate actively in the course. Other leading experts will be invited to present the latest developments with respect to the geography of knowledge, innovation, networks and transitions, and provide comments on the research projects of the PhD students and feedback on the paper that PhD students have to write.

Course Program

Download course information (PDF)

NORSI Travel

As this course is considered a NORSI course, all travel expenses etc. will be covered for NORSI students. Same procedure as for other NORSI courses. NORSI students’ refund is dependent upon completion of course work and their status as a NORSI student. All NORSI students make their own travel arrangement (Economy). PhD students registered for this course that are not part of NORSI will have to cover their own expensens.

Travel Refund

NORSI covers all travel expenses for NORSI students and faculty. Please note that NORSI does not issue per diem (diett penger) but will refund your food expenses, so save your receipts. In order to receive your travel refund mail/scan in all your original tickets and original receipts (plane, taxi, bus etc.) to NORSI/Birte. More information here.

However, if your “home” institution has temporarily covered your travel costs, your institution may send NORSI/BI/Birte and invoice (faktura) asking NORSI to cover your outstanding travel costs with copies of your receipts. (Norwegian: Hvis ditt lokal studiested legger ut for deg så kan det lokale studiestedet fakturerer BI totalt for alle sine NORSI studenter med en totalsum for reisekostnadene. Legg ved kopi av vedlegg). Please ask your institution to specify who (your name) the invoice/travel refund is for and write NORSI on the invoice. If you have any questions about this, please email Birte Horn-Hanssen.

Date & Location

Part 1: 11-14 September, Part 2: 30 October - 2 November 2018
Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands. ECTS provided by UiA.