Does Built Environment Matter for Innovation? A Quantitative Multilevel Empirical Analysis of U.S. Innovative Capacity with regards to Physical Assets and Urban Form

Authors: Ahoura Zandiatashbar*, , Shima Hamidi, UT Arlington, Center for Transportation Equity, Decisions and Dollars
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Economic Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: Innovation, urban form, public transit, walkability, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Innovation becoming the engine of new economic productivity has been intensifying researchers to unleash the associated geographical and locational determinants. Although, a large body of literature has shed light on such determinants, the empirical and quantitative approaches have less been adopted. This national study seeks to fulfill this gap in academic literature and conducts a national empirical analysis of built environment and innovation production at the neighborhood level. The first part of this research draws a theoretical framework to deduct the built environmental characteristics contributing to innovation production. As the result, the notable built environment characteristics are density, walkability, land use mix, and enhanced transit accessibility. Although several characteristics are best to be measured at the local level (e.g. walkability, land use diversity, activity density and transit quality) others should be measured at the regional scale (e.g. regional urban form-as the proxy for regional accessibility-and university R&D input). Therefore, the second part of this research used Multi-level Modeling (MLM) to investigate the linkage between such characteristics and innovation generation. Accounting for economic and socio-demographic cofounding variables, we found that innovative firms tend to locate more in dense, pedestrian-friendly, and transit accessible neighborhoods. Our findings confirm the significance of urban form and its physical features on innovation production function theorized by previous studies.

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