Barriers to digital innovation

Session organisers:
  • Aleid Brouwer (NHL-Stenden University of Applied Sciences and University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
  • Richard Rijnks (University College Cork, Ireland)

This special session focuses on the barriers to digital innovation and adoption of technologies associated with the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and opportunities for overcoming these barriers. While digital innovations have the potential to impact throughout entire value chains, the realisation of their potential is conditional on the capacity of businesses and individuals to adopt and implement these in their processes. Barriers to the adoption include individual human capital (e.g. digital skills, knowledge), firm characteristics (e.g. economies of scale), and social capital (e.g. knowledge in the network). The recent literature hints at a negative relationship between the possibilities of implementing new knowledge and the distance from a knowledge center. This means that these barriers to implementation can correspond closely with existing geographies of innovation and economic growth and have the potential to reproduce and reinforce regional economic hierarchies. This session aims to explore the geographies of digital innovation and adoption through the lens of entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and connect these to broader theories of innovation.

List of Topics:

  • Geographies of Automation Adoption
  • Geographies of Digital Skills
  • Geographies of Entrepreneurial Innovation
  • Geographies of 4IR: Infrastructure
  • Social Networks and Digital Innovation
  • Best Practices for Fostering Adoption


The Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


The Manchester Urban Institute           Creative Manchester logo


The University of Manchester Hallsworth Conference Fund           The Regional Studies Association           The Productivity Institute