Recombinant invention in solar photovoltaic technology: can geographical proximity bridge technological distance?

Deyu Li (Corresponding author), Gaston Heimeriks, Floor Alkemade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the emergence of new combinations of unrelated technologies at the regional level. The analyses show that for solar photovoltaic inventions, such unrelated technologies are more likely to be recombined when they strongly co-locate in the same region rather than in different regions. Furthermore, we show that this pattern is common to renewable energy inventions, although different dynamics are observed in different types of renewable energy technology. The results highlight the importance of place-based capabilities in facilitating breakthrough inventions in renewable energy technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-616
Number of pages12
JournalRegional Studies
Issue number4
Early online date26 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Deyu Li gratefully acknowledges the support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [grant number ES/S010688/1]. Floor Alkemade gratefully acknowledges the support of the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek [grant number 452-13-010]. The authors thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. They also thank the participants of the Radical Innovation and (Regional) Growth workshop 2018 in Bremen and the 5th Global Conference on Economic Geography in Cologne 2018 for their valuable comments on prior versions of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • geographical proximity
  • recombinant invention
  • renewable energy technologies
  • solar photovoltaic
  • technological distance


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