Smart Regions and Mega-Regions: A global perspective

Past April 15th, the Government of the Generalitat presented for the first time a clear digital strategy in Brussels.  With the participation of the City of Barcelona and i2cat Foundation, Mr. Jordi Puigneró explained why Catalonia wants to be in the forefront of the new generation of smart technologies at the regional level. 

Mr. Markky Makkula, new president of the Committee of Regions, opened the event greeting the government of Catalonia for this initiative, considering Catalonia as a leading European region in this field. 

It is known the key role that cities will play as the place, where most human population will live in our 21 century. Smart city is an emerging research and innovation topic in these days. Some urban planners and city experts insist in considering the region as a more inclusive environment for the developing smart strategies. 

Using a global dataset of nighttime light emissions, Richard Florida and his team produced in 2007 a map of objectively consistent set of mega-regions for the globe. Then they calculated the population of these regions, the estimated GDP and the technological and scientific innovation. The conclusion was a map of 40 mega-regions with economic output of more than $100 billion that produce 66% of world output and accounts for 85% of global innovation1.

Urban mega-regions for the global economy would be the equivalent of the metropolitan cities for the national economies. 

This is the map of mega-regions in Europe.  

For Richard Florida real economies of Europe are six or seven world-class mega-regions that compose the bulk of the continent’s innovation and production.

Europe’s largest mega-region is the enormous economic composite spanning Amsterdam -Rotterdam, Ruhr-Cologne, Brussels-Antwerp, and Lille. This region is the house of 59.2 million people and produces nearly $1.5 trillion in economic output, more than Canada. The second mega-region is the British one stretching from London through Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and into Birmingham. This mega-region is home to 50 million people and responsible for $1.2 trillion in economic output. The third is the Italian mega-region stretching from Milan through Rome to Turin, which is a leading center for fashion and industrial design. 48 million people produce some $1 trillion in output, making it the 3rd largest economic conglomerate in Europe and the 7th largest in the world. The fourth mega-region is in Germany, encompassing Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Mannheim, home to 23 million people. The fifth is Greater Paris, a mega-region of 14.7 million people accountable for $380 billion in LRP (Light Based Regional Product). Finally the sixth mega-region in Europe is the bi-national Euro-Sunbelt mega-region (rank 11 globally), which stretches from Barcelona into Marseille and then Lyon, it claims some 25 million people who produce $610 billion in LRP.

The SmartCAT strategy presented by the Generalitat is part of an effort of collaboration between a consortium called Four Motors of Europe, composed by Baden-Württemberg (capital Stuttgart), Rhone Alps (Lyon) and Lombardia (Milano). Established in the mid 80s, now this consortium is defining its digital strategy.  The different regions in this group belong to three different European mega-regions. The networking effects of such collaboration can be of a great area of interest for the future of Europe.

Apendix 1.

Table 3: Top 40 Mega-regions Based on LRP, Light Based Regional Product

Name

Population

(Millions)

Pop.

Rank

LRP 2000

($Billions)

LRP

Rank

Patents

(2001)

Pat.

Rank

Authors

(2001)

Auth.

Rank

Greater Tokyo

55.1

4

2500

1

91280

1

11

16

Bos-Wash

54.3

5

2200

2

21307

3

293

1

Chi-Pitts

46.0

9

1600

3

17686

4

67

5

Am-Brus-Twerp

59.3

3

1500

4

6985

9

29

11

Osaka-Nagoya

36.0

14

1400

5

15897

5

9

20

Lon-Leed-Chester

50.1

6

1200

6

3315

14

89

3

Rom-Mil-Tur

48.3

7

1000

7

4000

33

12

14

Char-lanta

22.4

18

730

8

4188

11

49

7

So-Cal

21.4

22

710

9

6902

10

74

4

Frank-Gart

23.1

17

630

10

3199

15

39

8

Barce-Lyon

25.0

16

610

11

1896

23

10

17

Tor-Buff-Chester

22.1

19

530

12

3402

12

56

6

Seoul-San

46.1

8

500

13

21833

2

0

40

Nor-Cal

12.8

28

470

14

11567

6

108

2

So-Flo

15.1

25

430

15

2693

19

8

22

Fuku-kyushu

18.5

24

430

16

1965

21

9

20

Paris

14.7

26

380

17

9007

8

16

13

Dal-Austin

10.4

30

370

18

3149

17

16

13

Hou-Orleans

9.7

32

330

19

2724

18

30

10

Mexico City

45.5

10

290

20

91

35

0

40

Cascadia

8.9

33

260

21

3179

16

33

9

Rio-Paulo

43.4

12

230

22

457

30

0

40

Hong-Zen

44.9

11

220

23

2231

20

1

31

Sapporo

4.3

37

200

24

232

32

0

40

Vienna-pest

21.8

21

180

25

1365

26

1

31

Tel Aviv-Amman- Beirut

 

30.9

 

15

 

160

 

26

 

377

 

31

 

8

 

22

Prague

10.4

29

150

27

3400

13

2

25

Buenos Aires

14.0

27

150

28

95

34

0

40

Denver-Boulder

3.7

40

140

29

1921

22

11

16

Phoenix-Tucson

4.7

36

140

30

1652

24

6

24

Shanghai

66.4

2

130

31

988

27

0

40

Taipei

21.8

20

130

32

5000

37

1

31

Lisbon

9.9

31

110

33

44

39

1

31

Beijing

43.1

13

110

34

1582

25

0

40

Delhi-Lahore

121.6

1

110

35

160

36

0

40

Glas-burgh

3.8

39

110

36

643

29

9

20

Berlin

4.1

38

110

37

9998

7

7

23

Singapore

6.1

34

100

38

170

40

1

31

Madrid

5.9

35

100

39

849

28

1

31

Bangkok

19.2

23

100

40

58

38

0

40

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