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Innovation engines for knowledge cities: an innovation ecology perspective

Ron Dvir (Founder and CEO, Innovation Ecology, Pardesiya, Israel (
Edna Pasher (CEO, Management Consultants, Herzliya, Israel (

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Innovation is the process of turning knowledge and ideas into value. An “urban innovation engine” is a system which can trigger, generate, foster and catalyze innovation in the city. This paper describes the concept of the “urban innovation engine”, provides some historical and contemporary examples, and suggests a set of guidelines for turning ordinary urban institutions into innovation engines. The paper has two purposes: to trigger further theoretic and action research and exploration in the domain of urban innovation. In recent years there has been intensive research about the conditions (“ecology”) which enable and catalyze knowledge development and innovation in the business world. A second new focus area in the research of knowledge development is the role of the city as a hub for intensive flows and exchanges of knowledge among its habitants and additional stakeholders. We suggest weaving the learning from the business and urban worlds by attempting to apply the dimensions of innovation ecology models to knowledge cities. More specifically, we look at multiple traditional urban constructs, and show how they might act as significant drivers for creativity and renewal. Typically an urban innovation engine is a complex system that includes people, relationships, values, processes, tools and technological, physical and financial infrastructure. We suggest that what innovation engines really do is to create conversations – which are the foundation of most innovations. We bring some examples and snap‐shots from several urban innovation engines such as the museum, the library, the stock exchange, the café, the brownfield, the grand fair, the outlook tower, and the industrial district. The paper conceptualizes the notion of “urban innovation engines”. Based on this concept, it provides a set of guidelines for creating a knowledge city using innovation engines as its building blocks, and innovation ecology elements as an important part of its operating system.



Dvir, R. and Pasher, E. (2004), "Innovation engines for knowledge cities: an innovation ecology perspective", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 8 No. 5, pp. 16-27.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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