Joint Centers of Excellence Program

Innovation Space


Knowledge is produced in a social, technological, and institutional context that affects the type and diffusion of that knowledge. Social interactions affect a scholar’s choice of problems, since scholars learn about research ideas from other scholars. Social interactions also affect knowledge diffusion, since academic conferences or even informal gatherings help scholars publicize and diffuse their ideas. Technology, on the other hand, affects the production of knowledge by affecting both, the tools available to researchers, and the areas of application of scholarly research.

Finally, formal and informal institutions also affect the production of knowledge. Yet, despite the central role that social interactions, technology, and institutions, play in the production of knowledge, little is known about the effect that these factors have on the production and diffusion of knowledge. In this Innovation Space project, we will explore the role of social context, technologies, and institutions in the production and diffusion of knowledge by leveraging novel data sources and techniques that help us map the networks that scholars form to produce and diffuse the knowledge they produce, and also, connect the production of knowledge with the industrial capacities of the places where this knowledge is being produced.


The Innovation Space project aims to establish a cohesive plan for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to move through research, patents and products to make informed decisions to achieve economic growth. The first objective is to identify forms for social and Institutional organization for the production of knowledge between several institutions within KSA that could enable scaling up their ability to coordinate, cooperate, exchange information, and make decisions. Additionally, we aim to develop metrics that are predictive of regional diversification in both industries and knowledge production using the product space, industry space, and the research space methodologies. Moreover, we aim to develop approaches to answer the question of how to move forward in research, industry, and education in a comprehensive multi-dimensional view; and explore tools to promote virtuous social and professional linkages that can enhance Saudi Arabia’s movement to a knowledge economy.


In the Innovation Space project, we will use a mixture of modeling and analysis methods such as complex networks modeling, machine learning, and other big data analytics techniques to improve the understanding of the effect of social context, technology, and institutions, in the production and diffusion of knowledge. We will do this by looking at connections between a country’s industrial structure, as it is reflected in the product space, and connecting that space with the space of knowledge production (or research space), and the space of labor skills. Moreover, we will explore how the automation of skills affects industrial structures, and how the potential pitfalls of that automation can be anticipated by looking at the sectors of the economy that are more likely to be disrupted.