2nd October 2019 – CUSP London Centre, King’s College London

Bush House, Central Block, South side 6.02 – 11am-12pm.

Dr Max Nathan:
Does Light Touch Cluster Policy Work? Evaluating the Tech City Programme


Despite academic scepticism, cluster policies remain popular with policymakers. This paper evaluates the causal impact of a flagship UK technology cluster programme. I build a simple framework and identify effects using difference-in-differences and synthetic controls on rich microdata. I further test for timing, cross-space variation, scaling and churn channels. The policy grew and densified the cluster, but has had more mixed effects on tech firm productivity. I also find most policy ‘effects’ began before rollout, raising questions about the programme’s added value.


Max is Associate Professor in Applied Urban Sciences at CASA, University College London, and is a Deputy Director of the ESRC/Government-funded What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth. He is an economic geographer with a background in public policy. His research focuses on urban economic development, in particular innovation systems and clusters; the economics of immigration and diversity; and public policy for cities. Much of his work focuses on the technology and creative sectors. Max has over 15 years’ public policy experience in think tanks, consultancy and government, including at DCLG as an ESRC-DCLG Senior Policy Adviser. He also co-founded the Centre for Cities, where he ran the research programme for the Centre’s first three years.


Do join us for this Seminar – Non King’s College London attendees, please email cusp-london@kcl.ac.uk to arrange a visit.