This master thesis aims at analyzing innovation district in two cities that are internationally known to be the innovation hubs of their respective regions. The analysis of these two case studies shows that innovation districts in both cities are city-led initiatives that are aimed at promoting the knowledge economy and innovation as tools to move from the industrial or oil economy. However, each innovation district is very unique and has several economic and social dynamics that are specific to its context and to its social and economic goals. The analysis of this unique social and economic dynamic is the main focus of this thesis. In order to analyze different layers of innovation districts and how those layers make every district unique, the theories of the French philosopher Henry Lefebvre and Graeme Evans will be used. What makes Evans and Lefebvre very relevant to this study is that their analysis of space creation (innovation district for this thesis) is not confined to a structural analysis of bureaucracy and formal steps to create an innovation district. Instead, they are more concerned with the dynamic process involving every possible stakeholder who would contribute to making the district, its activities and its experience unique. Indeed, there are several other angles through which innovation districts could be analyzed and studied. There are theories on urban regeneration, revitalization of industrial areas, clusterisation and agglomeration are some examples. However, the choice of Lefebvre to analyze the district was made because it represents the dynamic nature of innovation district, the internal as well as the external economic and social interactions within and outside the district. After analyzing the districts separately, Urban Policy Mobility framework will be used to analyze both districts combined. The thesis concludes that even though innovation districts can achieve the same economic goal of creating a knowledge economy, they still can be very different because of social, economic or cultural background of the city. It is not a goal of the thesis to measure the success or failure or each district, neither to generalize any assumptions about innovation districts as an approach to promote the knowledge economy. Instead, the goal is to look deeper into the innovation district to understand other economic and social dynamics beyond the usual quantitative measures of success and failure. Additionally, this study is not a comparative analysis. By definition, a comparative analysis would be to see how innovation districts would work in two similar cases. This study is a two case studies from different regions of the world, trying to shed the light on a region that has a lot of work in the field on innovation economy, but very little research.

global markets, local creativities, glocal, Innovation Districts, knowledge economy, Barcelona, Dubai, Europe, Middle East, Lefebvre, Evans, Urban Policy Mobility
P. van de Laar
Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL)
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

S. Abdelgwad. (2019, June 15). Understanding the Innovation District: Knowledge Economy and the Use of Space Barcelona and Dubai. Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL). Retrieved from