Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 277: Urban Regions in Europe – Preconditions and Strategies for Growth and Development in the Global Economy

Urban Gråsjö () and Charlie Karlsson ()
Additional contact information
Urban Gråsjö: University West, Postal: University West, Trollhättan, Sweden,
Charlie Karlsson: Jönköping International Business School, Postal: Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden

Abstract: Nowadays it is well-established fact that urban regions and large ones in particular are crucial for promoting creativity, innovation and subsequent economic growth in the economy. There-fore, it is important to focus policies in Europe on how to improve the existing conditions of urban regions so they can function as engines of economic growth. The purpose of this paper is to discuss policies needed to meet the current urban challenges and to make urban regions in Europe more competitive. A problem with current spatial policies at the EU-level as well as at the national level in most countries is that the policies mainly ignore functional urban re-gions and instead focus on administrative regions. A reason for this is that there is often no political body with authority over the whole functional urban region. In this paper, we present ideas for a new type of spatial policies in Europe focusing on innovation and growth. For in-stance, there is a need to take measures to increase the density of population and companies in functional urban regions and to improve transport infrastructure to increase the geographical extension of functional regions. There is also a need to develop more urban regions into real innovation nodes by developing more elite universities with a proper R&D funding and a ca-pacity to compete with the best universities in the US. Another focus must be on increased investments in higher education as well as policies aiming at increasing the attractiveness of urban regions in terms of housing infrastructure and supply of amenities.

Keywords: Urban regions; Urban policy; Growth; Innovation; Europe

JEL-codes: O18; R11; R58

20 pages, June 1, 2012

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