City-regions are the key source of economic vitality and innovative capacity for nation-states; innovative activity is becoming more, not less, concentrated in city-regions. It is widely recognized that the comparative advantage of city-regions in the knowledge economy rests on their social characteristics as much as their economic assets. One could say that a city-region’s social characteristics have now become its principal economic assets. The critical issues to be addressed in the proposed research are: how do local social characteristics and processes in city-regions determine their economic vitality and dynamism as centres of innovation and creativity? In particular, how do the social learning dynamics between economic actors, the social dimensions of quality of place (including diversity, openness, and inclusion), and the social nature of civic engagement and governance processes shape the city-region’s economic growth, creativity, and innovative potential?
Because these questions span the economic and the social, as well as the local and the global, a multi-disciplinary perspective is required. Moreover, in a country as spatially diverse as Canada, a research design that is national in scope but attentive to local experiences is called for; the diverse, multi-perspective team approach in this strategic research cluster will achieve exactly this.
As a tightly integrated, interdisciplinary team of scholars, with close working relationships with wide range of partners in Canada and abroad, the ISRN has developed expertise and international profile in three key research fields:
• the structure and evolution of innovation systems (national and regional)
• the local and global dynamics of cluster development
• the role of culture and creativity in city-regions
Recognizing Canada’s unusually diverse ethno-cultural composition and its highly urbanized character, a Canadian study of the social determinants of urban economic performance will be of great interest to scholars nationally and internationally, as well as to the policy community. This work also holds great promise to produce breakthrough insights into the processes underlying the geographical concentration of innovation and creativity, and to inform policy makers and communities concerning the local, provincial and national initiatives that are most effective in shaping a city-region’s economic potential.
Creative Halifax (Jill Grant)