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
When: 9 – 13 May 2022 (mandatory) and 16-19 of May 2022 (voluntary part)

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 Arne Isaksen, University of Agder

Local organizers:
Ron Boschma (Utrecht University/Stavanger University)
Bjørn T. Asheim (Stavanger University)


Registration deadline: 7th of March, 2022 (Applicants will be informed about their participation on 14 March 2022 at the latest)
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), NORSI and UiA.

Potential candidates of the course should provide the following information:
(1) name and affiliation
(2) in which year did you start your PhD
(3) supervisors
(4) summary of own PhD project (500 words)

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

2. In addition NORSI students have to submit additional personal information to registere with UiA (the NORSI ECTS granting institution for this course). Register at UIA at with course coordinator Arne Isaksen at cc


Guest lecturers:

Pierre-Alex Balland (Utrecht University/Toulouse University)
Corinne Autant-Bernard (University of St. Etienne)
Carolina Castaldi (Utrecht University)
Nicola Cortinovis (Utrecht University)
Valeria Costantini (University Roma Tre)
Koen Frenken (Utrecht University)
Elisa Giuliani (Pisa University)
Markus Grillitsch (Lund University)
Cesar Hidalgo (ANITI, Toulouse University)
Simona Iammarino (LSE)
Arne Isaksen (Agder University)
Andrea Morrison (Pavia University/Utrecht University)
Sergio Petralia (Utrecht University)
Andrés Rodriguez-Pose (LSE)
Elvira Uyarra (Manchester Business School/University of Western Norway)

Content of course:

The course aims to provide an introduction to contemporary research perspectives and approaches in economic geography. The core questions of this discipline 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 economic geography, institutional economic geography and complexity thinking in 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 to enhance innovation? What kinds of knowledge need to be recombined to enhance regional development? How does the geography of innovation look like? What network configurations are conducive to regional innovation? Who matters in networks of innovation? 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 transition towards sustainable development? And how do complexity, evolutionary and institutional theories accommodate these topics? 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. Leading experts will be invited to present the latest developments with respect to the geography of knowledge, innovation, networks and transitions, and provide feedback on the research projects of the PhD students.

Detailed Course Program


NORSI Travel

As this course is considered a NORSI course, all travel expenses etc. will be covered for NORSI students. Please see the NORSI Travel Policy for information.

Date & Location

9 - 13 May 2022 (mandatory) and 16-19 May 2022 (voluntary part)
Utrecht University on Campus