Unusual Suspects: The Role of Municipalities in Catalysing Innovation

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On the 10th of March, City-REDI held its second external seminar series of 2021 featuring Professor Kevin Morgan from the University of Cardiff.

The seminar “Unusual Suspects: The Role of Municipalities in Catalysing Innovation” focuses on research Professor Morgan is undertaking with colleagues from the Centre for Innovation Policy Research at Cardiff University.


This seminar draws on new theoretical literature on societal innovation and the role of a wide range of agents beyond the usual suspects (firms and their university partners in science and technology labs), highlighting the role of municipalities in catalysing innovation in the Cardiff Capital Region, which appears to be one of the first city-regions in the UK to formally embrace the foundational economy as one of the pillars of urban and regional renewal.

It also draws on action research projects that Cardiff University is conducting in concert with NESTA and the ten local authorities of the CCR city-region in promoting public sector innovation, especially with respect to data analytics, the dissemination of good practice and public procurement policies that stress values for money.

Summary of the event
  • There is a growing debate for reframing innovation; understanding who are the agents of the new forms of innovation and what is the real purpose of innovation as a mean and as an end.
  • Place-based innovation with more, new and different groups of agents is emerging in the innovation space.
  • Examples of agents of societal innovation such as the United Nations Development Programme’s Accelerator Labs and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Observatory of Public Sector Innovation for social learning, brings the question of whether these developments are bringing the state back in?
  • The devolution process firmly underway in the UK and it will get stronger, but the question is whether it will evolve into some form of a federal system?
  • Wales is struggling to come to terms with the challenges of two models of devolution: the national model and the subnational model.
  • The previous 3 region model in Wales was not sustainable, therefore a 4 region model has emerged where policymaking bodies are called Corporate Joint Committees. The question is are these represent top-down or more bottom-up regionalism.
  • Core objectives of the Cardiff Capital Region are additional jobs, leverage of additional investment and uplift in GVA. The Economic Growth Plan consist of the CCR City Deal: Connected, Competitive and Resilient
  • Many political challenges result from experimental governance and these challenges are at regional, national and UK level.

Upcoming City-REDI Seminars:
Date Speaker Organisation Seminar title Book a place
24th March Dr Bertha Rohenkohl The University of Sheffield, UK Intergenerational Income Mobility in the UK: New evidence using the BHPS and Understanding Society Book a place
21st April Dr Katy Jones Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Active labour market policy in a post-Covid UK: moving beyond a ‘Work First’ approach Book a place
28th April Dr Stephen Fisher University of Oxford, UK Socio-political consequences of regional economic divergence in Britain: 1983-2018 Book a place
5th May Dr Michael Wyrwich University of Groningen, Netherlands Cross‑faculty proximity and academic entrepreneurship: The role of business schools Book a place
19th May Dr Levi Wolf University of Bristol, UK Space and place in predictive models Book a place
2nd June Dr Rhiannon Pugh CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden The changing roles of universities during the Covid crisis Book a place
16th June Beatriz Jambrina Canseco, PhD LSE, UK The stories we tell ourselves: Local newspaper reporting and support for the radical right Book a place

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