Universities are increasingly seen as critical actors in regional innovation, especially in peripheral places. However many of the conceptual frameworks for understanding the role of universities have not been flexible enough to reflect the specificities of the place and context in which they operate. This session will start by outlining the policy 'problem'. It will then present the findings from three key initiatives that have sought to address this. This will be followed by a robust discussion in plenary to determine ways forward for better policy design and implementation in the future.
The role and prominence of universities in contributing to regional innovation has been increasingly recognised by policy makers over the past 20 years, especially in peripheral places. There have been several attempts in recent years to create conceptual frameworks and models to help universities and policy makers understand the role and contribution of higher education to local and regional innovation, however, these models have failed to fully reflect (or given insufficient attention to) the impact of the regional context (economic, social, political), the policy environment for higher education and territorial development and the diversity of management and leadership structures of universities themselves. This has led to the development of static models that rarely work outside of the immediate context in which they were developed and therefore risk leading to design of policies that are not fit for purpose.
This session has the following objectives:
- To present a brief overview of the nature of the policy 'problem' – why do many universities still not realise their full potential in contribution to regional innovation?
- To present the learning from three key initiatives that have sought to better understand the role of universities in regional innovation which have developed policy oriented tools and frameworks to help regional actors design more effective and place-based approaches
- To discuss in plenary the merits and weaknesses of these findings as tools to underpin policy design and suggest ways they could be improved for implementation