IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

R&D, innovation and economic growth: spatial heterogeneity in Europe


  • Roberta Capello


  • Camilla Lenzi


In this paper, we aim at re-assessing the undisputed positive relationship between innovation and economic growth by questioning the view that R&D (and formal knowledge in general) equates innovation and innovation equates regional growth. We rather propose that these linkages are strongly mediated by local territorial assets and explore this relationship at the regional level (NUTS2) for 262 regions of the European Union. In doing so, we rely upon an original database encompassing several knowledge and innovation indicators, ranging from R&D expenditures, patent data, to newly released data on different types of innovation: product, process and marketing and/or organizational innovation, derived from the Community Innovation Survey 2002-2004 wave. The data set also includes several variables aimed at capturing different elements characterizing possible different attitudes and patterns of innovation that we control for, such as regional preconditions for knowledge and innovation creation and acquisition (namely, accessibility, trust, structural funds funding, foreign direct investments). The results of the analysis confirm that R&D is an important driver of economic growth. However, this result hides a larger territorial heterogeneity and needs some qualifications. Firstly, only regions strongly endowed with elements supporting knowledge creation processes are likely to benefit from the positive returns to R&D; a critical mass of R&D investments is therefore needed in order to exploit the eventual benefits arising from increasing returns to research expenditures. Secondly, once controlling for innovative behavior, R&D does not show anymore a significant impact on GDP growth. In fact, whereas the growth benefits accruing from R&D look rather selective and concentrated in a relatively small number of regions, the benefits accruing from innovation look not only of greater magnitude but more pervasive and beneficial for a larger number of regions. From these findings, we ultimately draw ad-hoc policy suggestions.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberta Capello & Camilla Lenzi, 2012. "R&D, innovation and economic growth: spatial heterogeneity in Europe," ERSA conference papers ersa12p187, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p187

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ernest Miguélez & Rosina Moreno, 2013. "Do Labour Mobility and Technological Collaborations Foster Geographical Knowledge Diffusion? The Case of European Regions," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 321-354, June.
    2. Roberta Capello & Camilla Lenzi, 2013. "Territorial patterns of innovation: a taxonomy of innovative regions in Europe," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 51(1), pages 119-154, August.
    3. Ernest Miguele & Rosina Moreno, 2012. "Do labour mobility and networks foster geographical knowledge diffusion? The case of European regions," Working Papers XREAP2012-14, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Jul 2012.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa12p187. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Gunther Maier). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.