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01 about

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


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

I am an innovation scholar, focusing on the strategic dimensions of managing technological change and innovation, knowledge creation and (regional) economic development. I am interested in the production of new technology and the uneven spatial distribution of economic and innovative activities, often through the lens of collaboration. My research informs corporate strategic decision-making, entrepreneurship and public policy. My work is distinctly interdisciplinary, using theories and methods from strategy, management, innovation studies, economics, sociology, network science and geography. Most of my research is quantitative and computationally intensive, using econometrics, network analysis, data mining and machine learning tools to answer research questions.

Research questions I am currently engaged with are:

  • Are complex patents more likely to be collaborated?

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

  • 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?

  • Do mobile inventors have greater productivity?

  • Do specialized cities have better collaboration networks?

My main academic interests are:

  • Technological change, innovation and economic development

  • Dynamics in (networks of) collaboration

  • How distance among team-members impacts learning

  • How technology evolves over time and impacts firms and regions

  • The uneven spatial distribution of economic and innovative activities


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, hiking, camping and long-distance 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.

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