How smart is specialisation? An analysis of specialisation patterns in knowledge production

Gaston Heimeriks, Pierre Alexandre Balland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (SciVal)


To understand how the specialisation patterns of cities differ among scientific fields, we study patterns of knowledge production in Astrophysics, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Organic Chemistry in the period 1996-2012. Using keywords from journal publications, we find systematic differences across scientific fields, but remarkable similarities across cities within each field. Biotechnology shows a turbulent pattern with comparative advantages that are short lasting, and with few related topics are available for research locations. Astrophysics-and in later years Nanotechnology-show a pattern of stable rankings, comparative advantages that last longer, and many related topics potentially available for research locations. Organic Chemistry has an intermediate position. Thus, fields of knowledge production have fundamentally different characteristics that require different smart specialisation strategies taking into account the differences in accumulation and relatedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-574
Number of pages13
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Innovation policy
  • Path dependency
  • Scientific knowledge dynamics
  • Smart specialisation


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