Historical Roots of Regional Innovation

Session organisers:
  • Michael Fritsch (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany)
  • Maria Greve (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany and University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
  • Korneliusz Pylak (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University Lublin, Poland)
  • Michael Wyrwich (University of Groningen, The Netherlands and Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany)

Extensive research has confirmed that regional activities that are conducive to regional performance such as innovation can have rather deep historical roots. Such historical roots include past industrial specializations, knowledge production and dissemination, urbanization economies, regional cultures, formal institutions and political regimes, as well as a region’s ‘first nature’ conditions (e.g., its location fundamentals, access to transport routes, the quality of the soil, natural resources, etc.). Such historical roots can lead to both, the flourishing of innovation in areas with favorable conditions as well as a lock-in on the old development path. Understanding such historical roots is highly important for any policy that aims at strengthening regional innovation and the regional innovation system.
We invite papers that analyze the role of both short-term and long-term historical factors affecting innovation. The main research questions to be addressed are:


  • What are the historical factors that determine a region’s level of innovation today?
  • What is the role of natural conditions and location fundamentals (a region’s ‘first nature’) for innovation?
  • How pronounced is the effect of different types of historical roots? To what extent do various historical factors pre-determine current conditions for innovation?
  • To what extent do historical shocks and institutional shifts affect the level of innovation?
  • What is the role of policy in the presence of historical roots? What are appropriate policy strategies?
  • How to overcome deeply rooted regional cultures and mentalities that work as impediments for regional innovation?
  • To what extent do historically determined innovation levels affect regional prosperity?


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