Innovation systems and regional economic development (Dr Kevin Rees)

A substantial body of research within economic geography indicates that a region’s capacity for product and process innovations is crucial to their economic competitiveness. This innovative capacity is related to the organisation of the multitude of institutions, including firms, research institutions and government agencies, into an effective innovation system. A research project is continuing into the formation, evolution and disintegration of innovation systems in a variety of industries and spatial scales, with particular research interests in corporate collaboration, university – industry interaction, and the uncritical proliferation of ‘cluster’-based policy approaches to regional development. Previous and ongoing research has included the biotechnology, telecommunications and wireless networking industries, in Canada and Wales. Further research is welcomed in these or other industries, particularly but not limited to EU and North American economies.

Intellectual property, regulation and performance in the knowledge economy (Dr Kevin Rees with Prof. Marcus Doel)

The assertion of intellectual property rights has become a defining characteristic of contemporary knowledge economies. Econometric analyses of patent datasets have proliferated, with research in Geography interested in contrasting national and sectoral patenting propensities. Representational analyses of intellectual property, especially in the form of patent data, have been used as a proxy for measuring the diffusion of knowledge and technology between industries and nations. A non-representational, performative analysis of intellectual property offers the potential to reveal the motivations behind formalised forms of protection and an appreciation of the work that patents do for innovative firms, for example as a marketing tool or signal to potential investors or collaborators. Furthermore, despite moves towards international harmonisation, national variations in intellectual property protection remain and may be ‘worked out’ differently across space and time, generating a variegated regulatory space. This performative perspective opens up new and challenging research opportunities to understand the operation of the knowledge economy.

Local labour market dynamics (Dr Kevin Rees)

The idea that labour markets are segmented; that is, that the availability of jobs and potential for occupational advancement is limited to certain elements of the labour force; is well established in economic geography. Previous research has demonstrated segmentation by age, gender and race, and within sectors as diverse as manufacturing industries to financial services. This project is interested in exploring the nature and spatiality of segmentation in labour markets in high-technology firms. This includes an exploration of job descriptions, hiring, advancement and work practices in high-technology manufacturing firms and contract research and development firms. Also of interest is the (dis)function of formal and informal local labour markets for the integration of recent migrants into the UK economy from new EU member states.