Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography

August 28, 2015

# 15.25 Smart Specialization Strategies and Key Enabling Technologies. Regional evidence from European patent data.

Sandro Montresor and Francesco Quatraro


The paper investigates the drivers of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) with a focus on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). We re-examine the interpretation of S3 as new regional technological advantages (RTAs) obtained through relatedness, by reconceptualising within it the original focus on General Purpose Technologies (GPTs) and by considering their inter-regional spillovers. Combing regional patent and economic data for a 30-year panel (1980-2010) of 26 European countries, we find that KETs positively impact on new RTAs, pointing to a novel “enabling” role for them. KETs also negatively moderate the RTAs-impact of cognitively proximate pre-existing technologies, suggesting that KETs could make relatedness less binding in pursuing S3. The net-impact of KETs is positive, pointing to a new case for plugging KETs in the S3 policy tool-box. Furthermore, KETs also display cross-regional spillovers in their RTAs-impact, leaving KETs “poor” regions with a possible back-up from closer KETs “rich” ones.


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