Urban Economic Development: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

In a global economy, cities and regions are in a perpetual state of competition. This master track examines how cities use innovation and entrepreneurship to drive growth and build economic resilience in an unstable global economic climate.


The Urban Economic Development: Innovation & Entrepreneurship programme is a master track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which offers students the opportunity to gain insight into the fundamental urban and regional processes related to economic development and resilience. Case-study examples and contemporary literature explain urban governance from an economic perspective by showcasing how cities grow and perform economically at a regional and global level. Students will work with real databases and use statistical software to learn how to translate economic theory into concrete analyses. By the end of the track, students will learn to identify criteria to assess urban and regional economic policy effectiveness using quantitative methods for evaluation as well as perform these analyses on various spatial scales: from countries to regions to neighbourhoods to households and individuals. In addition, students will be able to interpret real-world data to deliver innovative solutions for economic development in the context of an unstable global economic climate.

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At the end of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Reproduce and interpret theories that deal with urban and regional competitiveness and resilience.

  • Identify criteria for urban and regional economic policy effectiveness using quantitative methods for evaluation.

  • Apply economic and geographical reasoning to analyze economic development and governance on various spatial scales: from countries to regions to neighborhoods to households and individuals (macro-level, meso-level and micro-level analyses).

  • Apply theories, concepts and analytical research methods from contemporary literature to practical examples.

How is your year organized?

The first block shares courses on urban sustainability, governance, planning, policy, finance, and data analytics with the other master tracks. However, your assignments with the modules as well as the action planning workshop are always track-specific. In the second and third blocks, your courses will only be track-specific, but all students also follow a course on GIS. The fourth block will be entirely dedicated to you writing your thesis. In addition, the programme will strengthen your research skills through research methods courses and workshops. It will further guide you in writing your thesis proposal on a topic relevant to your master track.


  • The impact of designated industrial zones on Egypt's manufacturing SMEs.

  • Does changed connectivity contribute to changes in the resilience of specialized cities?

  • Local competitiveness projects under EU external financial aid: A scope analysis of the regional competitiveness operational programme, Turkey.

  • Big brand physical presence effects on attractiveness of urban areas in Klang Valley.

  • High-tech specialization and income inequality: Evidence from Europe, 1995-2015.

Block 1 - October to January

With over half of the population living in urban areas, rising to 70% in 2050, it is of ever-increasing importance to understand how cities work and evolve. Complex and interrelated economic, social, physical, and environmental processes are constantly transforming cities. Understanding cities, therefore, require us to recognize, define and describe these complex and multidisciplinary processes.

This course will discuss the efforts of governments, often undertaken in partnership with other stakeholders, to deliberately intervene in and influence, steer and guide the development process of cities. 

Local governments have a key role in the planning and execution of investments and preparation of fundable projects. In some countries, local governments have become increasingly dependent on intergovernmental transfers, which have been shrinking over time in part because of the fiscal constraints. Moreover, investment decisions are at the core of any development strategy. All these, and many others aspects of financial investments, are addressed in this course.

For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This does not only mean that a majority of people worldwide live in cities, but also that cities are increasingly becoming larger and more complex. To account for that complexity, an ever-increasing number of quantitative data sources that cover urban areas and cities on different scales have become available, requiring urban managers to have the knowledge and skills for analysing such data and making sense out of them. This course will teach students how to harness the power of quantitative urban data by mastering the way they are prepared, visualised and analysed. The course begins with introducing students to quantitative data analysis (compared to qualitative data analysis), and continues with lectures on descriptive statistics and data visualisation.

Blocks 2&3 - January to April

The Action planning Workshop incorporates the concepts learned during the Urban Governance, Policy, Planning and Public Private Partnerships (UGPPP) module in a practical, one-week exercise.

Have you ever wanted to carry out a spatial analysis for research purposes? Or do you intend to do so for your thesis? GIS can be a powerful tool for spatial data analysis as it can link spatial and non-spatial data. Furthermore, visualizing data spatially, for example through maps, can reveal spatial relations which otherwise would not have become apparent. In this course, we will introduce and apply fundamental methods for analyzing data in GIS which will be helpful in answering research questions with a spatial component. These skills will be an added value in social sciences research and will be highly valued in various professions.

In the field of economic development, theories on regional economic competition and competitiveness will be introduced and winners and losers of regional competition discussed. In the field of resilience, students will be exposed to the topics of evolutionary economics, economic transitions and innovation, and placed-based economic development policies. There will be special attention to the economic impacts of sustainable development, infrastructural development, restructuring labour markets, structural change, innovation, urban and regional planning, and international trade and FDI relations. 

This course will run in parallel and cover more advanced methods of data analysis for policy evaluation, building upon the core period course ‘Urban Data Analytics’. Students will be introduced to non-linear regression models, panel data analysis, binary dependent variable, and instrumental variable regression. A major focus of this module lies on the interpretation of results with the aim to conduct evidence-based policy analysis.  

Designing and implementing academic research in the field of urban studies is a major component of the master’s programme at IHS. This Research Design (RD) course guides students to design academic research within the social sciences and to develop their thesis proposal.

The main objective of the Research Proposal Period is to support the individual research process of participants and at the same time produce a body of collective knowledge that is expected to contribute to the understanding of the domain of urban management and development in developing, transitional and developed countries.

Block 4 - April to September

Designing and implementing academic research in the field of urban studies is a major component of the master's programme at IHS. During this period students will write their master thesis on their chosen topic guided by a supervisor.

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