Footfall in UK cities since lockdown. Source: Centre for Cities High Street Tracker, Locomizer.

Update, 11 December: Henry and I have rebuilt the piece to take account of the latest vaccine developments. Read that here.

23 September: I’ve done a long read for the Economics Observatory on what COVID-19 and other pandemics might mean for big cities in the future. It’s co-authored with Henry Overman at LSE.

It’s one of the hardest things either of us has had to write — there are so many unknowns, and many moving parts that all affect each other.

One key uncertainty involves how the UK and other countries might exit the pandemic [although see update]. We also…


Cities around the world are the epicentres of the coronavirus pandemic. Why is this, why have some places been hit so much harder than others, and – as countries start to move out of lockdown – what will come next?

There is no shortage of possible explanations. The catastrophe of COVID-19 has triggered a parallel wave of research and analysis, as we struggle to understand the virus and its impacts. By the end of April, scientists had already published over 7,500 articles on COVID-19. Economists had put out over 110 working papers (one has even managed a book). …

City in the Air, Arata Isozaki

Centre for Cities have put up a new City Talks podcast I did with CEO Andrew Carter, talking about cities, clusters, cluster policy tools and the Tech City programme. Later on we also go into some more nerdy stuff about policy evaluation and data.

It’s about an hour long. Happy listening!

If you want more detail, the academic paper behind the conversation is here, and I wrote a summary of it here.

London’s technology ecosystem is thriving. The city has over 50,000 tech firms, with over 260,000 employees. Venture capital investment rose from £384 million in 2013 to £1.8 billion in 2018. A number of companies, such as Deepmind, Transferwise and Deliveroo, have become unicorns, valued at more than £1 billion. It survived the financial crisis and is — so far — largely Brexit-proof.

East London is an important part of this story. Since the late 1990s, the neighbourhoods around Shoreditch have become home to a rich tech community, especially digital content firms that bridge to traditional media, advertising, marketing and design.

Anna and I have a new CEP Discussion Paper out looking at innovation and productivity in UK firms. Read it here.

It’s quite technical. Working with the data science firm Growth Intelligence, we combine rich administrative info with media text and machine learning to develop new measures of firm-level innovation — specifically, launches of new products and services. We show that these both complement existing measures (like patents and trademarks) but do better on various fronts. This is important, as measuring innovation is hard to do, especially ‘downstream’ activity as ideas diffuse out into society. …

Some job news: I’m excited to say that I’m taking up a new role at UCL in September. I’ll be a new Associate Professor in Applied Urban Sciences at the Centre for Applied Spatial Analysis (CASA), part of the Bartlett faculty of the built environment.

This move clicks together a number of pieces for me. The Bartlett is one of the best places in the world to be an urbanist. CASA is a world leader for data-driven analysis of cities and urban places. My own research is increasingly using novel datasets and data-science methods; at the same time, I’ll be…

© Tim Mazzarol 2014

Back from Glasgow, where I’ve been at the University talking about entrepreneurial ecosystems. Many thanks to Ben Spigel and Fumi Kitagawa for inviting me, and for organising such a nice group of people.

It was a pretty striking event. Here are some thoughts while they’re still fresh.

(I’m new to this field, though as an economic geographer I’ve done some work on related issues. So apologies in advance for anything that’s wrong or missing in what follows.)

1/ This is the first field I’ve found where many of the key authors seem deeply, deeply sceptical about the core subject matter…

The original Silicon Roundabout. © Matt Biddulph

I have a new paper out in the Journal of Economic Geography, written with Emma Vandore and Georgina Voss.

It draws on 10 years of fieldwork by the three of us, and looks at tech clusters, specifically how well place branding tools work in developing and governing cluster ecosystems. As a case study, we look at the tech scene in East London — both the emergence of Silicon Roundabout during the 2000s and its transformation into Tech City during the 2010s.

We’re particularly interested in the use of ‘spatial imaginaries’ — simplified and selective ‘mental maps’ of a supercomplex reality…

© Andy Gilmore

A What Works Centre piece, part of our industrial strategy design guide.

It features in our 10 Principles report, which forms the centrepiece of a major programme of work with central and local decisionmakers in 2018 and 2019.

As a fast review of a large field, there are a lot of references.

Industrial policy: why bother?

There is a very large and diverse literature on industrial policy. The subject is covered by lots of different kinds of academics, with different language and approaches. For instance, the field covers endogenous growth theory [1]; Schumpeterian models of entrepreneurship / innovation / creative…

Here’s something I wrote for the 2018 Birmingham Economic Review, produced by my colleagues at City-REDI.

In the UK, like many other countries, industrial strategy has been back on the policy agenda since the Great Financial Crisis. We can trace recent Government thinking across party lines — from Peter Mandelson’s ‘New Industry, New Jobs’, through to ideas developed by Vince Cable and David Willetts in the Coalition, to the Conservatives’ Industrial Strategy White Paper published in 2017. …

Max Nathan

UCL, CEP, IZA and @whatworksgrowth. Urbanism, economics, innovation, migration. I’m at Old posts:

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