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The impact of knowledge base on technological innovation of emerging industries from the perspective of related variety: A case study of China’s fuel cell industry

Zefeng Mi, Yongmin Shang and Gang Zeng

Growth and Change, 2022, vol. 53, issue 1, 57-75

Abstract: The location of emerging industries has been hotly debated in the field of economic geography. While the concept of Windows of Locational Opportunity proposes that new industries emerge with relative freedom in space, the literature on Regional Branching has been underlining the importance of existing knowledge base. The concept of related variety provides us with a new way to handle this ongoing debate. By dividing technological knowledge base of a region into related and unrelated knowledge bases, this study empirically examines the impact of knowledge base on technological innovation of emerging industries by utilizing patent data of China’s fuel cell industry from 2000 to 2016. The empirical findings clearly confirm the stable and positive impact of related technological knowledge base on the emergence and development of emerging industries. However, the direction of the impact of unrelated technological knowledge base changes from negative to positive with the maturity of the industry. To an increasing extent, emerging industries tend to be less free in space and prefer to locate in developed regions with related and unrelated knowledge.

Date: 2022
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