Heike Mayers current research focuses are: Industry geography and geography of entrepreneurship, the Economic Geography of capital cities, entrepreneurship and innovation in peripheral areas, innovation and learning from a relational economic geography perspective and globalization and placemaking. 

The Website of the economic geography group at the University of Bern gives a more detailed overview about Heike Mayers current research projects.

Industry Geography and Geographies of Entrepreneurship


Entrepreneurial processes and entrepreneurial firms are important topics in economic geography. We examine entrepreneurial dynamics in spatial perspective and focus on the development of emerging industries. We pay particular attention to entrepreneurial genealogies and the career paths of entrepreneurs. Several research projects are currently under way:

  • Entrepreneurial dynamics in Seattle
  • Past Projects include:
    • Innovation and entrepreneurship in Portland`s athletic and outdoor gear industry (with Joseph Cortright, Impresa Inc.)
    • Women and minority entrepreneurship (with Darrene Hackler, George Mason University)
    • State science and technology policy strategies in the United States
    • High-tech and biotech industry specialization and metropolitan areas in the United States (with Joseph Cortright, Impresa Inc.)

Innovation and Learning from a Relational Economic Geography Perspective

Knowledge creation and knowledge management are socially and economically embedded processes that are dependent on their spatial context. While information and other forms of explicit knowledge are available at a global scale, implicit knowledge that is of central importance to innovation and learning and which is often intertwined with local practices, can only be codified or transferred with a great effort.

The Economic Geography of Capital Cities

Capital cities play an important role for the cultural, social and political identity of a nation and research in political science, art history and urban planning has highlighted their representative functions. Yet, there is a lack of research in economic geography about the economic functions of capital cities. We are examining capital cities from a comparative perspective and are engaged in the following projects:

  • An economic analysis of the capital city region Switzerland (Heike Mayer)
  • Examination of the homeland security industry and its potential for St. Elizabeths (with colleagues at Virginia Tech)
  • Comparative analysis of secondary capital cities (with Tina Haisch and Fritz Sager)

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Second Tier Regions and Peripheral Areas

Second tier regions and peripheral areas have often been neglected in the study of innovation and entrepreneurship. We examine the role of entrepreneurial actors in these peripheral areas and question the dominant analytical models that emphasize agglomeration economies. Research projects include:

  • Economic changes and entrepreneurial dynamics in peripheral regions like the Alps (Heike Mayer)
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation in second tier high tech regions in the United States (Heike Mayer)

Globalization and Placemaking

This research area focuses on how cities and regions retain their cultural and economic identity while adjusting to the changes resulting from globalization. We have examined development strategies of small towns and have written extensively about the Slow City movement. Research includes:

  • Small town sustainability (with Paul Knox, Virginia Tech)
  • Slow city movement (with Paul Knox, Virginia Tech)


To have a look at Prof. Mayer's CV, click here.