A Conscious Geography: the Role of Research Centers in the Coordination of Innovation Policy and Regional Economic Development in the US and Canada
Through a comparison of how a "conscious geography"; has informed the organization of research centers in the US and Canada, this article contributes to the debate about the role of regions in the devolution of national science, technology, and innovation (STI) policy. A "conscious geography" refers to a policy framework in which the spatial distribution (and concentration) of innovation and/or production is explicitly considered. In both countries, Centers of Excellence, either based in, or affiliated with, universities, have become lynchpins of an evolving multi-scalar STI policy. The geographic consciousness informing each set of institutional structures, however, varies significantly. Early evidence indicates that the Canadian model, which explicitly takes a geography of production and innovation into account, produces more positive policy outcomes than the US model which employs an ad hoc approach to space. The explicit consideration of the spatial distribution of production appears critical to multi-scalar collaboration, contributing to both horizontally-distributed networks across regions and between researchers and vertically-integrated networks within scales (e.g. the national and regional).