INOV - Sociétés innovantes

OPen Innovation : Models and Places in Urban China – OPIMPUC

Submission summary

Today's technologies of information (from mobile devices to online networks) and their uses are shaping new ways to build geographic spaces as social territories. Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) has also brought a new configuration for the economy of knowledge, where spaces and places can now be considered as “connected spaces of innovation”. Pursuing Castells’s works (1997) about informational cities, we want here to consider how particular organisations and places are structuring distributive forms of innovative practices. By considering the blooming field of Chinese electronics and the local innovation models and economy there, we want to provide reusable elements of strategy that can foster distributed innovation within specific territorial contexts.

The study of territorialized innovation and its models has been a very active field in the scientific literature. Notably the “business cluster” model (Fernandez & Puel, 2010; Porter, 1996), inherited from Italia has been contextualized and deployed in Europe, USA and Asia.
In China, the implementation of this model has led to the appearance of the “shanzhai” culture, where geographical clusters of small-size companies of makers are manufacturing counterfeit goods or cheap imitation of international branded products - especially digital devices and electronics. This process of localized production has been adapting quickly to market changes, producing new forms of innovation and design for technology (Keane & Zhao, 2012).
Those physical spaces are also hubs for virtual social networks that distribute widely intelligence and knowledge through colleagues and members of the same industry. This distribution of design, organizational processes and operational practices has been largely mediated through ITC (information sharing, reverse engineering of technical schemas, rapid prototyping technics, etc.)

In this research project, we want to take inventory and analyze the models of emerging urban spaces that play or have played a synaptic role between virtual and physical worlds within new modes of “industrial organization” of innovation.

We make the hypothesis that those « sustainable » or ephemeral places have common characteristics: socio-technic features based on social networks, focused community of actors and distributed practices of innovation.

We also aim at providing new understandings about how physical and virtual spaces are co-structured by a sharing economy within and between social groups (artists, workers, students, and enterprises) related to their access and representations of places and technologies.

During this research will focus on places, organizations and communities regarding the following criterions:
a) Their territorialized industrial forms (fablab, techshops, hackerspaces, vertical clusters of companies…)
b) Their governance of distributed innovation:
- distributed through new engineering practices and modus operandi - open bill, open date, agile management…
- distributed through new forms of business models
- distributed through new ways of managing skills and knowledge

This comprehensive research deals on one hand with the urban forms of distributed/open innovation and their contingency, on the other hand with the creative transformations currently happening in China - with a focus on their replicability.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Gilles Puel (Laboratoire d’Etude et de Recherche sur l’Economie, les Politiques et les Systèmes sociaux)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


DPUD Department of Urban Planning and Design/Nanjing University
TPT Telecom ParisTech
LEREPS Laboratoire d’Etude et de Recherche sur l’Economie, les Politiques et les Systèmes sociaux

Help of the ANR 183,775 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2014 - 24 Months

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