Global Challenges Academy

Staff Profile

Dr Paul Vallance

Research Associate


I am an economic and urban geographer, currently working as a research associate in CURDS. Before this I did an MA in Human Geography Research and a PhD in economic geography, both also at Newcastle University. I try to take an interdisciplinary approach in my work, which up to now has mainly drawn on organisation studies, (heterodox) economics, urban planning, and higher education studies, as well as geography. 


I am currently also working as a researcher on Newcastle City Futures, the RCUK/Innovate UK funded Urban Living Partnership pilot project for Newcastle and Gateshead (  


My previous research experience and current interests follow three strands:


1) In my PhD and subsequent related writing I have been interested in practice-based theories of knowledge and innovation, and particularly the contribution that approaches from organisation studies such as communities of practice and cultural-historical activity theory can make to the understanding of this area in economic geography. For my PhD I carried out ethnographic research on the relationship between collective learning and work practices in UK videogame development studios. In the future I aim to further develop this strand of research by studying the role of design as a practice through which innovation occurs across manufacturing, service, and creative industries. I am currently taking this interest forward through participation in the Creative Fuse North East project (


2) My work in CURDS has included a focus on universities, public research organisations, and intermediary organisations in territorial innovation systems and policy. This strand of research has mainly been based in institutional and evolutionary economic geography approaches. A recent conceptual paper published in Economic Geography (2016) explored how universities/public research organisations can be integrated into evolutionary economic geography frameworks. From 2013 to 2016 I worked on the EU FP7 project Smart Specialisation for Regional Innovation (SmartSpec), led by Cardiff University.


3) Another area of research with colleagues in CURDS has been the wider urban and regional development impacts of universities and related 'anchor' institutions. Under this strand, I am co-author of the 2013 book The University and the City, and co-editor of the 2016 book The Civic University: The Policy and Leadership Challenges. My current role on the Newcastle City Futures Urban Living Partnership builds on this previous work in a concern with the interaction of actors from the university, public, private, and community and voluntary sectors as part of innovative demonstrator projects focused on helping to address the future needs of the city.


Most of my publications are available through the Newcastle University ePrints system (  


I contribute to the undergraduate geography module Local and Regional Development (GEO3114) and to the CURDS MA in Local and Regional Development.