Our project focuses on seven dimensions that have been neglected or underestimated so far:
- The (potential) effectiveness of regional competitiveness policies that focus on a creativity- and knowledge-based metropolitan economy;
- The role of path dependency: do traditions in certain economic branches and certain local and regional historic spatial structures contribute to a more favourable point of departure when trying to develop a ‘creative knowledge region’?
- The extent to which policies for competitive ‘creative knowledge regions’ not only aim at attracting certain types of economic activities, but also at providing ‘soft location factors’ like an attractive residential environment, public space, and ‘meeting places’ for the ‘talent pool’ needed for these economic activities;
- Related to this, the extent to which cluster formation, especially in creative and knowledge-intensive clusters, is related to these ‘soft’ location factors;
- The question which regional geographic and administrative scale is most relevant for regional competitiveness when aiming for ‘creative knowledge regions’;
- Differences and similarities between metropolitan regions in West, Central and Eastern Europe in their potentials to become competitive centres of creativity, knowledge and innovation.
- The role of trans-national migration of a skilled labour force towards centres of creativity and knowledge, and the extent to which these trans-national migrants are attracted by ‘soft’ location factors like an attractive residential environment, a diverse population and a tolerant atmosphere in the metropolitan regions they migrate to? How important are such factors when weighted against job or career opportunities and costs of living? To what extent are migrants to ‘creative knowledge cities’ different from migrants to ‘global’ or ‘world cities’ in their reasons to migrate?
Central research question
What are the conditions for creating or stimulating ‘creative knowledge regions’ in the context of the extended European Union? More particularly, what is the role of so-called ‘soft’ factors in creating and stimulating ‘creative knowledge regions’?
This question is broken down in the following interrelated groups of sub-questions:
- Literature review. What does existing literature tell us about the conditions for the creative knowledge region? Which concepts and definitions can be derived from that literature to analyse this question in a truly international comparative way?
- Analysis of paths of creative knowledge regions. To what extent does existing statistical and written material in selected regions in Europe point at the development of those regions into the direction of regions with a ‘creative knowledge’ profile? What are the different paths these regions have followed and what are the other types of conditions that impacted upon the development of the ‘creative knowledge region’, such as the policies applied and the role of ‘soft’ factors, like the functioning of the housing market, diversity, tolerance, and the availability of services and amenities?
- Target group importance. To what extent are the target groups we distinguished as being potentially relevant for the development of ‘creative knowledge regions’ (higher educated graduates and workers in knowledge intensive and creative industries; managers of knowledge intensive companies; trans-national migrants) important? What does statistical information about their development learn us about their relative weight?
- Target group opinions. What is the opinion of the members of the target groups we distinguished? To what extent do they believe that ‘soft’ location factors have become more important in business location strategies, especially among creativity- and knowledge-based entrepreneurs, compared to other location factors? What do they think about the role of the historic development path of the urban economy, urban social and cultural structure and the urban physical structure, etc.? Will certain development paths lead to better opportunities to develop a ‘creative’ and/or ‘knowledge’ region, compared to others? Are there significant differences regarding the opinions between higher educated graduates and workers in creative industries; managers of knowledge intensive companies; and trans-national migrants?
- Policies and strategies. What are the lessons for regional economic development policies and strategies from these statistical and survey based investigations of the conditions for the ‘creative knowledge city’? What is the most suitable regional scale for intervention? Should there be a focus on core city development or on the metropolitan regional level?
- Divergence or convergence. To what extent can we witness a divergence or a convergence in recent development processes, policies and strategies of West-, Central- and East-European metropolitan regions and the extent to which they stress the role of creativity, innovation and knowledge?
- Is it good for the EU? What could be the contribution of developing ‘creative knowledge regions’ in Europe to the EU ambition to become a more competitive knowledge-based economy?
We want to compare the recent socio-economic development trends and the recent economic development strategies in 13 metropolitan regions across Europe to get more insight in the extent to which creativity, innovation and knowledge are indeed the keys to a successful long-term economic development. The metropolitan regions in the ACRE project are: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Budapest, Dublin, Helsinki, Leipzig, Milan, Munich, Poznan, Riga, Sofia, and Toulouse.