Dynamism of European Research Geography: Does Specialization Really Matters?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
J211 (13 rue de l'Université)
Nicola Francesco Dotti , Department of Geography, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
André Spithoven , Belgian Science Policy Office
Bas Van Heur , Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
While it is well known that R&D activities are unevenly distributed across space, how this geography has recently evolved is less explored. R&D activities are recognised as one of the main drivers for economic competitiveness, in this perspective the EU has promoted the Framework Programmes (FP) since 1980s to support it. Nonetheless, the policy rationale is based on highly competitive calls for funding, and recent analysis have shown different ‘territorial research competitiveness’ in the capacity to collect FP grants.

This paper aims to show drivers of evolution in the European research geography arguing that this mainly depends on economic and scientific preconditions rather than on scientific (‘smart’) specialization. The analysis uses an innovative and very detailed database at the level of European districts (NUTS3); moreover, six different FP themes are combined and compared from 1999 to 2010. Findings show the importance of economic growth and scientific diversification as main drivers for the attraction of FP projects. Combining this analysis with the EU Cohesion Policy, scientific specialisation seems having a positive effect for Objective-1 regions, but only in selected FP themes. These findings highlight under which conditions the FP policy can be used to promote territorial development through scientific (‘smart’) specialization.

  • Dotti et al. for CES.pdf (823.2 kB)