Hales, Derek (2009) The spatiality of disruptive networks: spaces, knowledge and innovation. In: Networks of Design: Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society (UK). Universal-Publishers, Boca Raton, Fl. USA, pp. 63-67. ISBN 9781599429069

This paper conceptualises ‘knowledge exchange’ as the invention of new practices with reference to cultures of openness, a fluid relationality, boundary play and other tactical and strategic ‘space-acts’ (de Certeau 1984).

The subject of the paper is the Centre for Creative and Cultural Knowledge Exchange, (CKE) a partnership between the Universities of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan. The CKE itself forms one node in HEFCE's 5 year initiative to establish a regionally and nationally operating network of 22 Centres of Knowledge Exchange between industry and academia. This network is now in its fifth year of operation and provides fertile ground for empirical study.

Through this paper the generative and transformative forces operating in, upon and through the CKE are revealed as a network of artefacts: new products, new systems and new tools; the relational interactions between universities, between networks of creative industries and other SMEs, as well as semi-autonomous peer2peer networks; and a variety of technical, legal and policy instruments. Together this ‘actant-rhizome’ (Latour) creates and extracts values as it runs through organisational hierarchies, defines industrial districts, trespasses on and poaches in other territories, operates between regions and across disciplines, dis-locates and destabilises areas and zones (out). The case study concludes by developing these spatial concepts, to reveal the CKE, as an assemblage of networked flows that liquify space at a variety of scales and through variable speeds.

This paper shows how it might be useful to move away from notions of innovation 'centres' and of notions of transfer and translation, instead imagining mobile emergent and fluid networks of people and their interactions; thinking of these as the sites and locus of innovation; and by focussing on the strategies and tactics of network practices, to rethink innovation as a network of disruptive space-acts.

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