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“Developing strategic frameworks for innovation related public procurement” – first report is published

Report entitled “Developing strategic frameworks for innovation related public procurement” has now been formally published by the European Commission. It can be downloaded at:  – please click ‘reports’.

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prof. Charles Edquist is chairing an European Union project
(A Mutualcharles-avatar Learning Exercise, MLE) on innovation related public procurement. The first report in this initiative has now emerged. It is written by Charles and has the title “Developing Strategic Frameworks for Innovation Related Public Procurement”.

This report addresses frameworks for innovation related public procurement. It focuses on four specific kinds of procurement, namely (1) direct innovation procurement, (2) catalytic innovation procurement, (3) functional regular procurement, and (4) Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP). (1) – (3) are also called Innovation-Enhancing Procurement (IEP).

The report empahasizes  the importance of functional procurement and functional specifications for innovation. Functional procurement can be defined as the procurement of products by an authority/unit that describes a function to be performed (or a problem to be solved) instead of describing the product that is to perform the function. In functional procurement, a public agency specifies what is to be achieved rather than how it is to be achieved. Functional regular procurement is pursued by means of functional specifications instead of product specifications. Hence, it is a matter of the manner in which a procurement call is set up and the tender documentation is formulated. Needs are translated into functions to which potential suppliers can respond. It opens up for innovation but does not require it. The general conclusion is that functional specification is needed for all the four different kinds of procurement addressed in this MLE. To achieve innovation through public procurement it is, somewhat paradoxically, more important to emphasize functional specification than to pursue innovation procurement.

In the 2014 EU Procurement Directives it is stated that “Functional and performance-related requirements are also appropriate means to favour innovation in public procurement and should be used as widely as possible.” Sweden is the only country where the government has developed – in 2016 – a national strategy for public procurement where innovation procurement – actually meaning functional procurement – is central. This strategy is described in some detail in the report.

Go to the report:  

Happy reading!



Dr. Zheng, Dr. Lavesson and Dr. Fredin Congratulations!

In this summer post we are pleased to summarise the first half of this year by congratulating our three new doctors Yannu Zheng, Niclas Lavesson and Sabrina Fredin for successfully defending their PhD dissertations.

This is a great accomplishment which requires an incredible amount of hard work, all leading up to that very special moment! Your perseverance and dedication over the years have taken you there. This was a proud moment and we wish you all the best in the next exciting chapter in your life.

Yannu: How immigrants invent: evidence from Sweden



For thesis details contact Dr. Zheng at: or

Niclas: “Rural-urban interdependencies: The role of cities in rural growth



For thesis details contact Dr. Lavesson at: or

Sabrina: History and geography matter: The cultural dimension of entrepreneurship


For thesis details contact Dr. Fredin at:


Enjoy your summer!


Happy Midsummer!

Are you excited about the Midsummer celebration tomorrow? Empty city centres, highest strawberry prices of the year and probably rain ;). We wish you all the best from the lovely and green country side!


photo: swedish taste


PS: This video by is a classic at this point:

Glad Midsommar!

Latest research presented at the American Association of Geographers’ Annual Meeting in Boston 2017

Several Circle researchers, Johan Miörner, Magnus Nilsson and Joakim Wernberg have recently presented their latest research and Björn Asheim also held the Regional Studies Annual Lecture at the American Association of Geographers’ Annual Meeting in Boston, USA. This conference features over 6,900 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips by leading scholars, experts, and researchers.

These were the topics:

Magnus presented:
Paper by Markus Grillitsch and Magnus Nilsson 
Knowledge externalities and firm heterogeneity: Effects on high and low growth firms”

The paper analyzes differences in growth trajectories between strong and weak firms in core versus peripheral regions. 

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Johan presented:
Paper by Johan Miörner and Michaela Trippl
Path transformation through digitization: Self-driving cars in West Sweden”

The paper investigates path development activities targeting a wide range of, also non-technological, dimensions and how they promote incremental as well as more radical forms of change.

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Joakim presented:
His solo paper – by Joakim Wernberg
“Intracity Scaling Analysis and Micro-agglomerations”

The paper is investigating how internal city structure affects city-wide scaling; are there intracity scaling effects?

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Björn Asheim held the Regional Studies Annual Lecture 2017
“Meeting the Challenge of Social and Regional Inequality: How Coordinated Market Economies Link Innovation and Welfare”

Abstract: People in the contemporary Western world are suffering from two interconnected problems: a low rate of economic growth and a distribution of this more limited growth that is regionally and socially unequal. These problems are interconnected as they are rooted in the same political and ideological morass of the neo-liberalist regime of deregulation and liberalisation of the 1980s. Historically, innovation has been the most important source for increased productivity and value creation, and, thus, for making societies wealthier. When combined with the welfare policies of European coordinated market economies, this wealth has been fairly evenly distributed regionally and socially. Agents generating this growth have traditionally been Schumpeter’s Mark I entrepreneurs and his Mark II big corporations, often in close cooperation with national governments, which has characterised the Nordic countries. Today entrepreneurs create disruptive innovations, which only make themselves richer but not their host societies, and the big corporations are more and more focused on tax evasion, share buyback and other short-term activities, instead of investing their profits in innovation to secure future competitiveness. As a consequence, the underlying rate of innovation has slowed down, with lower productivity and value creation as a result.

What can a proactive innovation policy do to solve these problems, and what kinds of organisational and institutional innovations are needed to implement such a policy? How can policy not only solve the growth problem but the distributional problem as well? I shall argue that the answer is to be found in the coordinated market economies, where policies that shape innovation and welfare are strongly interlinked. The lecture aims at presenting such an agenda, inspired and informed by the innovation and welfare policies of the Nordic countries in general, and Sweden specifically.

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PhD defence by Sabrina Fredin on how history and geography matter: the cultural dimension of entrepreneurship

Sabrina Fredin, PhD candidate at CIRCLE, Lund University and School of Management at Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona, will defend her thesis with the title History and geography matter: The cultural dimension of entrepreneurship.

OpponentYuko Aoyama from Clark University

Sabrina Fredin

Sabrina Fredin

Date/Time: 21st of April 2017, 13:00

Place: Blekinge Institute of Technology in Karlskrona

Abstract: This dissertation deals with the rise of new industries through entrepreneurial activities. The aim is to investigate how differences in contexts might encourage or discourage entrepreneurial activities. This contextualization of entrepreneurship enhanced our understanding of when, how and why entrepreneurial activities happen.

Entrepreneurship is recognized to be a spatially uneven process and, in addition to previous research that has examined the actions of individual entrepreneurs, we also need to understand the context in which entrepreneurship occurs. We have a good understanding of how structural conditions like industry structure, organization structure and agglomeration effects influence the context, but we know little about how the social dimension of the context is the transmitting medium between structural conditions for entrepreneurship and the decision to act upon identified entrepreneurial opportunities. Following this line of argument, this dissertation is built on the assumption that entrepreneurship is a social phenomenon which gives strong arguments for including local culture in entrepreneurship research.

The temporal persistence and the pronounced differences of culture and structural conditions between places reflect path-dependent processes. I therefore use regional path dependence as an interpretative lens to study the contextualization of entrepreneurship in two Swedish cities.

Although each context is unique, some generalizations can be drawn from the four individual papers in this dissertation. The first is that industrial legacy leads to the formation of a distinct local culture and that the persistency of this culture influences the subsequent entrepreneurial activities in new local industries. The second is that this persistency of culture suggests that entrepreneurs who are outsiders, geographically or socially, are the driving forces for the emergence of new local industries. Finally, new industry emergence is a result of a combination of exogenous forces and initial local conditions, but it is the entrepreneurial individuals who translate these forces and conditions into entrepreneurial activities.

For more information please contact

Welcome to Sabrina’s PhD defence in Karlskrona!



Final PhD seminar with Lina Ahlin on the local labour markets and the location of human capital

Lina Ahlin, PhD candidate at CIRCLE and Ahlin
the Department of Economics, Lund University, will
present her PhD project with a title “Local labour markets and the location of human capital”. The final seminar is the last opportunity for the PhD candidate to present her work and receive feedback before the actual PhD defence.

Discussant: Maria Abreu from Cambridge University

Date: Friday, 31th of March 2017, 10.15

Place: Holger Crafoords Ekonomicentrum, Alfa1:NEK seminar room, floor 4, Scheelevägen 15.

Abstract from one of the papers: Sorting of high-ability workers is often advanced as one source of spatial disparities in economic outcomes. There are still few papers that analyze when human capital sorting occurs and whom it involves. Using data on 16 cohorts of university graduates in Sweden, we demonstrate significant sorting to urban regions on high school grades and education levels of parents, i.e. two attributes typically associated with latent abilities that are valued in the labor market. A large part of this sorting occurs already in the decision of where to study, because top universities in Sweden are predominantly located in urban regions. The largest part of the directed sorting on ability indicators occurs in the decision of where to study. Even after controlling for sorting prior to labor market entry, the ‘best and brightest’ are still more likely to start working in urban regions. However, this effect appears to be driven by Sweden’s main metropolitan region: Stockholm. We find no influence of our ability indicators on the probability to start working in urban regions subsequent graduation when Stockholm is excluded. Studies of human capital sorting need to account for selection processes to and from universities, because neglecting mobility prior to labor market entry is likely to lead to underestimation of the extent of sorting to urban regions.

For more information and a full manuscript please contact

Final PhD seminar with Niclas Lavesson on the rural-urban interdependencies and the role of cities in rural growth

Niclas Lavesson , PhD candidate at CIRCLE and Lavessonthe 
Department of Human Geography
, will
present his PhD project with a working title “Rural-urban interdependencies  and the role of cities in rural growth ”. The final seminar is the last opportunity for the PhD candidate to present his work and receive feedback before the actual PhD defence.

Discussants: Jan Amcoff from Uppsala University

Date: Tuesday, 28th of March 2017, 13.15-15.00

Place: Geocentrum, Sölvegatan 10, Lund. 4th floor, room ‘Malmö’

Background: A global trend in most countries around the world is a massive population growth in cities. This is no less true for Sweden and like in many other countries, there is an emerging concern about rapid rates of urban population growth. The concentration of population to cities implies that the boundaries of cities will change over time. Larger populations require more land use, and eventually cities begin to expand into what once was considered countryside. Most Western countries are currently witnessing a countryside in change, often characterised by a significant heterogeneity in population and employment growth between places.

For more information and manuscript please contact