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Spatial Variations in Innovations & Absorptive Capacity

Aims & objectives

The project, commissioned by the DTI (now BIS) and directed by Michael Kitson, examined whether differences in absorptive capacity at the firm-level are determinants of regional variations in innovation performance. Differences in firms’ absorptive capacity are also due to sectoral and technological specificities. Both firms’ absorptive capacity and sectoral structure differ widely across regions: the analysis focused on the former while controlling for the latter aspect in order to evaluate regional differences in firms’ propensity to innovate.

The empirical analysis was based on the use of two different and complementary firm-level databases covering UK enterprises. First, the recently released UK CIS4 and second, the newly collected Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Survey carried out by the CBR. The use of two data sets allowed for comparisons on a wide range of indicators on firms’ absorptive capacity and for different types of innovation. The CIS4 database provided information on a large sample of firms while the CBR allowed for more comprehensive details on firms’ characteristics in terms of innovative strategies and absorptive capacity. Furthermore, the analysis incorporated complementary evidence based on in-depth case study analysis of thirteen companies included in the CBR database. 


Abreu, M., Grinevich, V., Kitson, M. and Savona, M. (2006) Absorptive Capacity and Regional Patterns of Innovation, DIUS.

Conference papers

Abreu, M., Grinevich, V., Kitson, M. and Savona, M. (2006), ‘Regional innovation and absorptive capacity’, a presentation at the DTI Innovation Conference, London, 1 December. 

March 2008: CBR teams’ report on Absorptive Capacity and Regional Patterns of Innovation is Background paper to Innovation Nation White Paper

1 December 2006: What helps business absorb knowledge and does this capacity vary across the regions in the UK?

Project team

Maria Abreu
Vadim Grinevich
Michael Kitson
Maria Savona