Chapter 6: Enhancing urban competitiveness through innovative growth clusters
Increasing competitiveness is of great interest to cities: it is indispensable to further the well-being and prosperity of citizens and firms, and to generate employment. Thus, it is important to gain insight into the economic growth opportunities in cities. In this respect, new growth sectors such as information technology, biotechnology, environmental technology, media and tourism are at the centre of interest to academics as well as to urban managers. Many cities invest heavily in developing and attracting industries in these promising sectors. However, little is known about critical success factors that determine economic development of cities and regions, and empirical studies that draw lessons for policy are scarce (Nijkamp, 1999). Moreover, there are good reasons to doubt to what extent a pure sectoral view is adequate to analyse urban economic growth and to design policies. There are many indications that, increasingly, competitiveness seems to emerge from fruitful cooperation between economic actors, who form innovative complexes of firms and organizations. It is in these geographically concentrated network configurations, or ëclustersí, that value added and employment growth in urban regions is realized. This demands a new policy approach in urban economic development. The general aim of this chapter is to gain insight into new growth opportunities for cities and to provide scope for urban policy. We have focused on growth processes (why and how some clusters are growing) rather than growth figures, and we have made a comparison between growth clusters in different European cities.
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