The Baltic Region

2020 Vol. 12 №3

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Innovative development of Russian coastal regions: north–south divergence



Coastal regions are territorial social systems whose socio-economic and innovative development is strongly influenced by the factor of coastalisation. The effect of movement to the sea determines the dynamics of settlement systems as well as their economic and infrastructure development. This holds for transport, logistics, information and communications, industrial, and other infrastructure. Coastal regions are so diverse that it is impossible to construct a development model that will fit all of them. One can speak only of general trends. This study focuses on identifying differences between the innovation systems of northern and southern coastal regions within the same country. The geographical scope of the study is four Russian coastal territories: Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the Baltic Sea region and Rostov and Krasnodar in the Azov-Black Sea region. Methodologically, this study carries out a comparative assessment of heterogeneity of innovative development at municipal and interregional levels, using four groups of indicators: human capital, economic growth and clustering, innovation and digitalisation, and quality and standards of living. All these components are vital for regional innovative development. A statistical assessment is supplemented by a qualitative analysis of spatial patterns of innovation capital accumulation; the agglomeration factor is taken into account. It is shown that northern and southern coastal regions perform very differently on innovative development, the latter doing better than the former. Three main models of innovation generation, implementation, and accumulation of coastal regions are described. Each is associated with a different way to benefit from proximity to the sea. These are maritime activities, maritime transport, and the economic use of recreational, natural and climatic resources.