SS32: The role of regional ecosystems in the development of digital technologies for sustainability

Name and affiliations of the session organisers

  • Helen Lawton Smith (Birkbeck University of London)
  • Federica Rossi (Birkbeck University of London)
  • Muthu De Silva (Birkbeck University of London)
  • Henry Etzkowitz (International Triple Helix Institute)


The objective of this special session is to debate what underpins processes of systems of innovation in regions which support the development of companies and clusters in the region and the adoption of technologies on the part of regional organisations.  In this special session, the focus is on processes at the intersection of two emerging technology paradigms: the digital transition and the sustainability transition.  An underlying issue is that of digitization as a potential place destroyer.  

The debate will seek to add understanding of the multiple processes involved which depend on the objectives, scope and scale of innovation, actors involved, modes of interaction between them, as well as the role of regional formal and informal institutions. It seeks conceptual and empirical contributions which either present new data or reinterpret existing data on the development of digital technologies for sustainability and regional innovation systems. 

We invite submissions along the lines of the topics and themes below:

  • How multiple processes are involved at the regional level leading advances in digital innovation aimed at sustainability, or the creation of digital companies and digital clusters focused on sustainability. Examples from specific regions. 
  • Balancing incremental and discontinuous regional innovation strategies around digital technologies and sustainability. 
  • The relevance of geographical proximity in advancing the digital economy and the sustainability transition. 
  • The role of regional actors such as local governments, public and private research organisations, public and private innovation intermediaries in supporting the digital economy the sustainability transition at regional level. 
  • The intersection between digital innovation and sustainability as impetus for regional renewal. 


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