01 about

I am an Assistant Professor in Economic Geography and Innovation Studies at the University of Hong Kong.


I received a PhD in Economic Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles (2018) and a Research Master’s degree (2012) and Bachelor’s degree (2010) in Economic Geography from Utrecht University.


Before joining the faculty of HKU, I was a post-doctoral scholar at the department of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University and affiliated with the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems.

My research is on the uneven spatial distribution of economic and innovative activities, often through the lens of collaboration. My work is distinctly interdisciplinary. I make use of theories and methods from geography, economics, sociology and management studies. Most of my research is quantitative and uses data mining, network analysis, econometrics and machine learning tools to answer research questions. 

Research questions I am currently engaged with are:

  • Do specialized cities have better collaboration networks?

  • Are complex patents more likely to be collaborated?

  • Do people who collaborate locally learn more from each other?

  • How often do simultaneous innovations occur independently?

  • Do people learn from collaborators of higher quality?

  • What novel technological combinations are most likely to be invented?

  • Do mobile inventors have greater productivity?

My main academic interests are:

  • The uneven spatial distribution of economic and innovative activities

  • How networks of collaboration connect agents and places

  • How distance impacts learning

  • Technological change, innovation and economic development


I consult for governmental agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations.

In my spare time I like to play football (read: soccer), go surfing, skiing, camping and running. My native tongue is Dutch, but I also speak English, German and a little bit of French. ​

You can contact me via email at fvdw [at] hku [dot] hk.