The geography of eco-innovation: transitioning to Smart and Sustainable Specialization Strategies

Session organizers:

Sandro Montresor (sandro.montresor@unikore.it) and Francesco Quatraro (francesco.quatraro@unito.it)

The analysis of the drivers and effects of eco-innovation has received large attention in the recent years. This is undoubtedly due to the twofold effects that these technologies can bear on firm outcomes, in terms of both economic and environmental performances (Porter and van der Linde, 1995). The extant literature has mostly focused on firm-level dynamics, and aimed at ascertaining the role of differential regulatory frameworks in view of the well-known double externality problem.

At the regional and urban level, instead, the connection between innovation-based sustainability strategies and economic development has been recognised only recently, and mainly on a policy ground. Indeed, while a massive literature exists on regions as loci of a variety of innovation spaces of smart nature (e.g. industrial clusters, districts, incubators, technology parks and the like), the relevance of geography and spatial elements for eco-innovations and sustainability is at a still incipient stage of examination to build the bridge at hand upon it (e.g. Cainelli et al., 2012; Ghisetti and Quatraro, 2013 and 2017; Antonioli et al., 2016; Leoncini et al., 2016).

In view of this gap, we welcome submission of papers dealing with the spatial analysis of eco-innovation. A non-exhaustive list of contributions includes:

  • Analysis of the link between eco-innovation and regional development, including sustainable development, structural change, regional growth;
  • Geography of eco-innovations, including social network analysis, university-industry links, inter-regional knowledge flows;
  • Regional branching in green technological domains, including analysis of determinants and effects, as well as taxonomies and evolutionary patterns;
  • Policy-relevant analyses grounded on smart specialization strategies, key-enbling technologies and resilience patterns;
  • Case studies focusing on the development of specific technological domains in regional contexts and on the dynamics of regional systems of innovations.



Antonioli, D., Borghesi, S. and Mazzanti, M. (2016). “Are regional systems greening the economy? Local spillovers, green innovations and firms’ economic performance,  Economics of Innovation and New Technology (on-line first: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10438599.2015.1127557).

Cainelli, G., Mazzanti, M. and Montresor, S. (2012). “Environmental innovations, local networks and internationalization”, Industry and Innovation, Vol. 19, n.8, pp. 697-734.

Ghisetti, C. and Quatraro, F. (2013). “Beyond inducement in climate change: Does environmental performance spur environmental technologies? A regional analysis of cross-sectoral differences”, Ecological Economics, 96, 99-113.

Ghisetti, C. and Quatraro, F. (2017). “Green Technologies and Environmental Productivity: A Cross-sectoral Analysis of Direct and Indirect Effects in Italian Regions”, Ecological Economics, 132, 1-13.

Leoncini, R., Montresor, S. and Rentocchini, F. (2016). “CO2-reducing innovations and outsourcing: evidence from photovoltaics and green construction in North-East Italy”, Research Policy, 45(8), 1649-1659.

M.E. Porter, C. van der Linde (1995). éToward a new conception of the environment-competitiveness relationship”, J. Econ. Perspect., 9, pp. 97–118.