Listening to the buzz: exploring the link between firm creation and regional innovative atmosphere as reflected by social media

Carlo Corradini, Emma Folmer, Anna Rebmann

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This paper presents a novel approach to capture ‘buzz’, the vibrancy and knowledge exchange propensity of localised informal communication flows. Building on a conceptual framework based on relational economic geography, we argue the content of buzz may allow to probe into the character of places and investigate what is ‘in the air’ within regional entrepreneurial milieux. In particular, we analyse big data to listen for the presence of buzz about innovation – defined by discursive practices that reflect an innovative atmosphere – and explore how this may influence regional firm creation. Using information from 180 million geolocated Tweets comprising almost two billion words across NUTS3 regions in the UK for the year 2014, our results offer novel evidence, robust to different model specifications, that regions characterised by a relatively higher intensity of discussion and vibrancy around topics related to innovation may provide a more effective set of informal resources for sharing and recombination of ideas, defining regional capabilities to support and facilitate entrepreneurial processes. The findings contribute to the literature on the intangible dimensions in the geography of innovation and offer new insights on the potential of natural language processing for economic geography research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Early online date17 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: This research was funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust under the Small Research Grants scheme (SG171674). Dr Corradini also acknowledges funding by a Leverhulme Trust research fellowship (RF-2020–505\7).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Twitter
  • big data
  • buzz
  • entrepreneurship
  • knowledge spillovers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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