19 JUN 2019 (WED) 10:00-12:00 | 25 JUN 2019 (TUE) 11:30-12:15

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Economic Geography

MAP Library, Rm10.10, 10/F, Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU


19JUN2019(WED) 10:00-10:45am

A Tale of Three Forces: Geography, Collaboration and Innovation

Dr Frank van der Wouden

About the Speaker:

Dr Frank van der Wouden is an economic geographer interested in the spatial uneven distribution of economic activities and networks of collaboration that link together people and places. His work uses data-mining tools, machine learning techniques, methods from social network analysis and econometric models. Currently, he is working as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. He holds a PhD in Economic Geography form the University of California, Los Angeles – supervised by David Rigby, Michael Storper and Eric Sheppard – and Research Master’s degree in Economic Geography from Utrecht University working with Ron Boschma.


Innovation is seen as a key driver of economic development, but is unevenly distributed across space, giving rise to patterns of regional disparities in economic fortunes. Recent evidence shows that the production of knowledge – the key ingredient of innovation – is increasingly being dominated by collaboration and teamwork. The interactions of collaboration can provide a platform over which resources flow between regions, boosting opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning, promoting a globalizing world economy. However, collaborating across geographical distance is costly – especially when frequent face-to-face interactions are required. Yet, there is very little empirical evidence on the complex interplays between collaboration, innovation and geography. This research seminar is an overview of my work on the relationships between these three forces. In the first part I introduce a novel inventor-patent data constructed using data-mining and machine learning tools. This data holds geographical and technological information on all (co-)inventors on more than 3 million US patents between 1836-1975. I investigate the relationship between complexity and collaboration in innovation, and how geography impacts this relationship. In the second part, I examine whether inventors moving between cities and/or firms have greater productivity than similar non-mobile inventors. I will end by highlighting three exciting future research areas in economic geography.


19JUN2019(WED) 11:15am-12:00pm

The Multi-scalar Spatiality of Digital Economy in China: