Dr Max Nathan

Dr Max Nathan

The Department of Strategy and International Business
Senior Birmingham Fellow (Regional Economic Development)

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Max is Senior Birmingham Fellow (Regional Economic Development) at Birmingham Business School, and is a Deputy Director of the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth. He is an economic geographer with a background in public policy. 

His research focuses on urban economic development, in particular the economics of immigration and diversity; innovation systems and tech clusters; and public policy for cities, especially policy design and evaluation. 

Max has over 15 years’ public policy experience in think tanks, consultancy and government, including at DCLG as an ESRC-DCLG Senior Policy Adviser. Max also co-founded the Centre for Cities, where he ran the research programme for the Centre’s first three years.


  • 2011 - PhD Economic Geography and Spatial Economics, LSE
  • 1998 - MSc Social Policy and Planning, LSE
  • 1997 - BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Oxford University 


I'm happy to hear from potential Birmingham PHD students working on urban economics and local economic development, using quantitative/mixed methods to look at innovation systems and ecosystems; entrepreneurship; the economics of migration and diversity; ICT and digital technology firms; the creative and cultural industries; urban policy evaluation.From time to time I'll have openings for postgrad or PHD-level research assistants on projects like these. If you're interested, please share your CV.


Max’s research focuses on urban economic development, especially the economics of immigration and diversity, innovation systems and tech clusters, and public policy for cities. His work uses large administrative datasets and big data sources / techniques as well as qualitative approaches. 

Max is always interested to hear from potential PHD students and research assistants. See Teaching for more.

Other activities

Max is affiliated to CEP, IZA, NIESR and the Centre for London think tank.


Peer reviewed journal articles

‘Creative Differences? Measuring creative economy employment in the US and the UK’ (with T. Kemeny & D. O’Brien), Regional Studies, doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2019.1625484.

‘Spatial Imaginaries and Tech Cities: Place-branding East London’s Digital Economy’ (2019) (with E. Vandore and G. Voss). Journal of Economic Geography, 19:2, pp 409-432.

Ethnic diversity and business performance: Which firms? Which cities?’ (2016) Environment and Planning A, 48:12, pp 2462-2483

‘Do Inventors Talk to Strangers? On proximity and collaborative knowledge creation’ (2016) (with R. Crescenzi and A. Rodríguez-Pose). Research Policy, 45:1, pp 177 - 194. 

‘Mapping Digital Businesses with Big Data: some early lessons from the UK’ (2015) (with A. Rosso). Research Policy, 44:9, pp 1714–1733.

‘Same Difference? Ethnic inventors, diversity and innovation in the UK’ (2015). Journal of Economic Geography, 15:1, pp 129-168.

‘After Florida: Towards an economics of diversity’ (2015). European Urban and Regional Studies, 22:1, pp 3-19. LEAD ARTICLE

‘Here Be Startups: Exploring a young digital cluster in Inner East London’ (2014) (with E. Vandore). Environment and Planning A, 46:10, pp 2283-2299. LEAD ARTICLE

‘The Wider Economic Impacts of High-Skilled Migrants: A review of the literature for receiving countries’ (2014). IZA Journal of Migration, 3:4, doi: 10.1186/2193-9039-3-4.

‘Cultural Diversity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from London firms’ (2013) (with N. Lee). Economic Geography, 89:4, pp 367-394.

‘Agglomeration, Clusters and Industrial Policy’ (2013) (with H. Overman). Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 29:2, 383-404.

‘East London Tech City: Ideas without a Strategy?’ (2011). Local Economy, 26:3, pp 197-202.


Urban Economics and Urban Policy (with P. Cheshire and H. Overman). (2014). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Book Chapters

'Exploring Digital Technology Industry Clusters using Administrative and Frontier Datasets.' (with A. Rosso). Forthcoming in Z. Chen and L. Schintler (eds), Big Data for Urban and Regional Economies. Oxford: Routledge

'Linking Research and Policy in Local Economies.' Forthcoming in L. Andres, J. Bryson and R. Mulhall (eds.) Regeneration Economies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

‘What works in urban regeneration policy?' In D. O’Brien and P. Matthews (eds), After Urban Regeneration: People, communities and place. (2015), Bristol: Policy Press.

'All in the mix? Top team demographics and business performance in English firms'. In J. Bakens, P. Nijkamp and J. Poot (eds.) E Pluribus Prosperitas: The economics of cultural diversity. (2015), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

‘Exploring Munich’s innovation system’. (2013) (with P. Rode et al). In R. Burdett, A. Colantonio and P. Rode (eds.) Transforming Urban Economies, London, Routledge.

Under review

Innovative Events (with A. Rosso). Under review. 

Incubators, Accelerators and Regional Economic Development (with M. Madaleno, H. Overman and S. Waights). Under review.

View all publications in research portal