The Bartlett School of Planning


Lin-Fang Hsu

Research subject

A Flourishing Smart City for Entrepreneurs? Evolution of Urban Technological Innovation Pattern in the Digital Age

Primary supervisor: Dr Jung Won Sonn
Secondary supervisor: Dr Juliana Martins
Starting date: October 2019
Projected completion date: September 2023 
Sponsor: Ministry of Education, Taiwan

Innovation and entrepreneurship have been described as key drivers of regional growth (Schumpeter, 1934; Boschma & Martin, 2010; pp. 26; Lambooy, 2002). Within such discourse, numerous scholars have contended that regional economic development can be the result of the creative competencies of economic agents, the operation of markets, or some combination of the two (Metcalfe, 2006). In the last decade, the development of ICT and digital technology has accelerated. Meanwhile, a variety of new applications of technology have emerged in cities, potentially transforming the potential for urban innovation in ways which may lead to significant new trajectories of urban development. One example of this phenomenon is IBM’s concept of the ‘smart city’, which was first brought to market in 2008; since then, various interpretations of the ‘smart city’ have become prevalent across the globe (Willis & Aurigi, 2017; pp. 11). With the rise of ‘smart city’ discourse, the notion that cities are engines of creativity and innovation has become more important than ever. Demand for this technology-dependent in cities located in emerging markets creates a new opportunity for high-tech entrepreneurs (Kummitha, 2019). In addition, this demand has been said to open up ‘a window of locational opportunity’ (Stoper, 1997; pp. 10; Boschma, 1996) for regions that can endeavour to develop new technologies to drive industrial transformation.

While the ‘smart city’ offers good prospects for entrepreneurs and regional development, not every city can seize this chance; to entrepreneurs, some cities are more attractive than others. The longstanding phenomenon of uneven development within or among regions, has been explored extensively in evolutionary economic geography (EEG) by unfolding the historical processes which have driven developmental trajectories in given areas (Boschma & Frenken, 2018). However, in the contemporary world, the ever-increasing extent of virtual connections and interactions has revolutionised both urban and regional systems — ‘digital technologies and computational logics’ have become an integral part of urban life (Luque-Ayala & Marvin, 2018; pp. 210). What will the evolution of modern cities look like, given the unprecedented changes caused by the ‘smart city’ trend combined with other activities of high-tech entrepreneurs? Can we still find the answer to this question from studying historical parallels?


Lin-Fang had been working as an urban planner and industrial consultant in the Nomura Research Institute and as an assistant researcher in a national economic think tank in Taiwan prior to joining the Bartlett School of Planning. She had gained teaching experience when she worked as a teaching assistant for graduate student seminars at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). She completed her bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and minored in Architecture at the National Cheng Kung University NCKU, and received an MSc in Urban Regeneration from the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. Her research interest focuses on urban evolution, urban morphology, smart city, knowledge city and high-tech entrepreneur.


Sonn, W. & Hsu, L. (forthcoming). Geopolitics and economic geography: A commentary on Andy Pike’s geographical political economy. International Journal of Urban Sciences

Chen, C., & Hsu, L. (2015). A study of immunity-based urban system: A morphological approach. Procedia Computer Science, 60(1), 652–661. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2015.08.201

Chen, C. & Hsu, L. (2015). Towards Knowledge Cities: Turing Redundant Spaces into Essential Places with ICT in East Asia. In Condie, J. & Cooper A. M. (eds.) Dialogues of sustainable urbanisation: Social science research and transitions to urban contexts. University of Western Sydney. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13398-014-0173-7.2