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Principal Investigator FP 7 TRIGGER project.

Research interests

Helen has specialised in studies of innovation and entrepreneurship in both high-tech and traditional sectors in the UK, Canada, France and Belgium, with a particular interest in university-industry interaction. Her work has been funded by the European Commission, the ESRC, regional development agencies and the CNRS.


In recognition of her expertise in regional development, Helen was elected as Academician of the Learned Society for the Social Sciences, having been nominated by the Regional Studies Association.

Research centres

Helen established the Oxfordshire Economic Observatory (OEO) in 2001. This is a practitioner-focused research centre focusing on understanding the South East knowledge-economy. It is now a joint venture between Birkbeck, Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University. Under her leadership, OEO has conducted a series of studies including a study of the performance of spin-offs from Oxfordshire.s universities and public research laboratories and has produced high-profile reports such as Enterprising Oxford: The Oxfordshire Model.

Helen also works as the Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research. Launched in 2008, it undertakes international research focusing on multi-disciplinary academic, industrial and commercial themes relating to the management of innovation. It is a hub for enabling collaborations, teaching and sharing of research, ideas and practice to create impact and facilitate more effective management, commercialisation of innovation and the development of effective policy.

Funded research projects

DatesTitle of projectFunding source
The performance of London University spin-offs London Higher
The effectiveness of business networks in Oxfordshire OEO
The ecology of small businesses in Oxfordshire Federation of Small Businesses, Oxfordshire Branch
January 2006 to date Dissemination of knowledge concerning current R&D localisation of large regionally important private sector organizations European Commission Sixth Framework priority programme
September 2006 to date Challenges to local economic development in an era of climate change and peak oil Link to an external web site ESRC Seminars Competition
The effectiveness of business networks in the Oxford to Cambridge Arc O2C Arc
June 2010 RSA Research Network on Policy Implications of Knowledge Intensive Business Services (KIBS) in a Globalised Economy Regional Studies Association

Helen Lawton Smith