This paper addresses the issue of technogenesis and its geographical pattern. It aims to offer both a general framework and test on innovation data from several European cities. This framework is built mainly on the product life-cycle and the incubation approach. Further, it is argued that the phases of an industrial life-cycle have several firm-specific effects. First, these phases influence innovativeness and thus profit levels, output and employment of firms in a spatially distinct way. Second, the phases of the life-cycle mirror the importance of local factors for innovation, and third, they affect strategic decisions of firms, for instance by influencing the source of their competitive edge. This paper also aims to model effects of relevant local factors on innovativeness by means of logit analysis, subsequent to a qualitative impact approach based on the recently developed area of rough set analysis. Our empirical results from various European cities show that the successive phases of the industrial life-cycle tend to create spatially recognizable impacts on the innovativeness of firms. Accordingly, the importance of local factors for innovation is also found to reflect a distinct time path. Among more than 20 local factors, the firms interviewed appear to consider support measures for skills training particularly important for innovations. Accordingly, the results of our logit models reveal that skills training links with a local university significantly contribute to the propensity to innovate. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.