Dr. George Christopoulos

Regional patterns of innovation clustering and economic performance

Year: 2022

Bart Verspagen & René Wintjes


This thesis introduces an approach for the definition of regional innovation clusters which is based on the co-location of concentrated patenting and manufacturing activity in the EU and goes beyond the boundaries of sectoral taxonomies. The incorporation of data on both the production and use of technologies results in the construction of an indicator that captures both formal and informal modes of innovation. The picture that emerges when applying this methodology to the data depicts a local context where patenting and manufacturing are co-located in activities that are linked across the value chain, often reflecting the evolution of resources and knowledge bases that have been cultivated throughout decades of economic activity.

The second major question this thesis addresses concerns the effect of the presence of the innovation systems depicted by the cluster indicators produced. The two periods studied are the years prior to and following the 2008 economic crisis. In the process, observations are made on additional dynamics shaping regional economic performance. The picture that emerges is not one of an absolute dichotomy between high-flying technology-intensive clusters and negatively locked-in traditional clusters. While the two most technology-intensive clusters do indeed appear to be positively connected to different dimensions of regional performance, the results do not serve in backing up the often-touted claim that ‘high-tech’ clusters generate more jobs. The results, therefore, do not point towards a conclusive empirical confirmation or rejection of claims regarding the benefits of cluster presence. What they do indicate, however, is that cluster effects should not be treated as a monolithic, time-agnostic concept.

Selected publications by George Christopoulos