Professor Riccardo Crescenzi

Professor Riccardo Crescenzi

Professor of Economic Geography

Department of Geography and Environment

020 7955 6720
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CKK 4.28
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English, French, Italian
Key Expertise
Economic Development, Innovation, FDI, GVCs, Public Policy, Regions, Cities

About me

Riccardo Crescenzi is a Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK. He has been a European Research Council (ERC) grant holder, leading a major five-year research project on foreign direct investment (FDI), global value chains (GVCs) and their territorial impacts across the globe. He is currently the LSE Principal Investigator of a large collaborative research project funded by Horizon Europe and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on inequalities in the era of global megatrends.

Riccardo has been a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI), a Visiting Scholar at the Taubman Centre at Harvard University, and at the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as an Associate at the Centre for International Development (CID) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Riccardo is the 2016 recipient of the Talented Young Italians Award for ‘Research and Innovation’, "in recognition of his outstanding research accomplishments" and the 2017 recipient of the Geoffrey J.D. Hewings Award from the North American Regional Science Council for “outstanding contribution to Regional Science Research”.

He has provided academic advice to, amongst others, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. Riccardo has also served as the Rapporteur of the High-Level Expert Group on Innovative Cities established by the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation and has been part of the National Commission for Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility established by the Italian Government to plan investment in sustainable mobility until 2050. Riccardo is currently a Member of the High-Level Reflection Group on the ‘Future of Cohesion Policy’ established by the European Commission to offer advice and knowledge on maximising the impact of Cohesion Policy.

He is an Editor of Regional Studies and an associate editor of the Journal of Regional Science.

Riccardo has a long track-record of teaching and research in regional economic development, innovation, FDI and GVCs, and in the analysis and evaluation of public policies. This research is published in top peer-reviewed journals in economic geography, international economics and international business and management and widely cited in academic and policy circles. His most recent book “Harnessing Global Value Chains for Regional Development” (2023, Routledge) explores how regions, cities and clusters can build, embed and reshape global value chains for local enhancement.

Expertise Details

Regional development; Local Economic Development; Innovation; Technological change; Foreign direct investment; Global value chains; Investment promotion; Public policy; European union; Cohesion policy; Globalisation; Italian economics; Economic policy


The Territorial Impacts of Large Research Infrastructure

Persons Involved: Riccardo Crescenzi (PI), Gabriele Piazza

Policy-makers have been attracted by the concept of innovation clusters and their potential to boost overall regional innovation, development and employment. But the evidence suggests that innovation is increasingly becoming a collaborative effort and that geographic proximity is only one of the factors, alongside social networks and cognitive proximities, behind these successful collaborations. In this context, public research centres and large research infrastructures (RIs) have become an important element of local innovation strategies. This is because RIs are often seen as platforms hosting researchers and working with firms from across the world and, consequently expanding existing networks and creating new ones. This process can result in complex geographies of innovation spanning multiple regions and involving a variety of local transmission mechanisms from individuals, institutions and firms directly participating into RIs activities and the local economies and localised networks in which they are embedded. Against this background, this Research Project will develop a new conceptual framework on these transmission mechanisms and the channels through which RIs activities can affect local economies. The project will also produce counterfactual analyses estimating the local socio-economic impact of RIs.

The project is supported by a grant by CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research (“CERN”), an Intergovernmental Organization having its seat at Geneva, Switzerland.


Persons Involved: Riccardo Crescenzi (PI), Simona Iammarino (co-I)

Understanding inequalities and designing public policies to address them.

The ESSPIN Project explores the nexus between social, economic and spatial inequalities in Europe. The project examines the typology, nature and evolution of socio-economic inequalities and aims to assess the mix of public policies designed to address them, in light of emerging mega-trends and global challenges.

The project is funded under the Horizon Europe Research Programme and involves a multi- and inter-disciplinary consortium of 13 European Universities from 10 different EU countries and the UK with an overall budget of 3 million euros.

Old and new drivers of change might run against balanced growth and socio-spatial resilience. The ESSPIN project explores policy responses, offering new evidence able to make them more inclusive and effective. The project takes a holistic and integrated approach to detect, model and map the interdependences among various drivers of inequality, opportunities and outcomes, delivering well-tailored policy recommendations.

The LSE Unit – led by Prof Riccardo Crescenzi and Prof Simona Iammarino – will coordinate the activities of Work Package 3 (WP3) focusing on the “The interconnections of in-market drivers of inequality with other processes and their impact across social groups and spatial scales.” WP3 looks at the effects of major shifts in institutions, market structures, technologies and globalization (with special reference to trade and FDI) on inequalities over different social and spatial scales. WP3 will examine their independent, but also combined effects on economic, social and spatial inequalities. The analysis will relate drivers to outcomes, but also different types of inequalities with each other. Inequalities in income levels, living conditions, or poverty, will be related to inequalities in perceptions, gender, race, or ethnic background over different social and spatial contexts.

The LSE Unit will do new research – in collaboration with other partners – in a number of key area. First, technological transformations and their effects on regional disparities, the urban-rural divide and local labour markets will be explored. Second, the LSE – with other partners – will also look at the effects of globalization on social and spatial inequalities under different regimes with respect to technology creation, innovation and institutions. Third, the effects of GVCs and FDI on firms, workers and places will be explored with special reference to the role of local agglomeration, digital and green transitions, public policies and institutions. In addition, special attention will be devoted to the impact of superstar firms on economic, social and spatial inequalities. Finally, the LSE will evaluate the effectiveness of public policies for recovery and resilience in the era of pandemic and digital and green transitions.

The Research Project if supported by a grant by UKRI (UK Research & Innovation) - Horizon Europe Guarantee and is a part of the Horizon Europe ESSPIN Project funded by the European Commission.


Disconnected research and development: The (temporary) spatial patterns of innovation (DISCO Project)

Persons Involved: Kerstin J. Schaefer (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow), Riccardo Crescenzi (Supervisor).

There is a spatial split between research and product development. Global firms off-shore their research activities to centres of knowledge but product development may be kept closer to their original locations. There’s a growing concern that such practice channels global knowledge flows and affects the ability of regions to produce innovative output such as climate-friendly engines or vaccines against new viruses, and it has further implications for the economic and social welfare of regions. In this context, the EU-funded DISCO project will explore the situation. Specifically, it will draw on information from patents to build an indicator and a firm typology revealing the global patterns of which type of R&D activity is performed at which locations

The project is funded by the European Union under the EXCELLENT SCIENCE - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Dr. Kerstin J. Schaefer (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow) will carry out the project addressing the spatial organization of research and development (R&D) activities within global firms under the supervision of Prof. Riccardo Crescenzi (Supervisor).

Sectors and industries

Consultancy; Creative Industries and Culture; Policy and Regulatory Bodies; Public Administration

Selected publications


Talented Young Italians Award for ‘Research and Innovation’, "in recognition of his outstanding research accomplishments"

Geoffrey J.D. Hewings Award from the North American Regional Science Council for “outstanding contribution to Regional Science Research”