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The role of universities in shaping and implementing regional smart specialisation strategies John Goddard Emeritus Professor of Regional Development Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "The role of universities in shaping and implementing regional smart specialisation strategies John Goddard Emeritus Professor of Regional Development Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of universities in shaping and implementing regional smart specialisation strategies John Goddard Emeritus Professor of Regional Development Studies Newcastle University, UK

2 = evidence-based: all assets =not top-down decision, but dynamic/entrepreneurial discovery process inv. key stakeholders = global perspective on potential competitive advantage & potential for cooperation = source-in knowledge, & technologies etc. rather than re-inventing the wheel = priority setting in times of scarce resources = getting better / excel with something specific = focus investments on regional comparative advantage = accumulation of critical mass = not necessarily focus on a single sector, but cross-fertilisations What is Smart Specialisation ?

3 When linked to economic development ‘entrepreneurial discovery’ is not just an individual endeavour or confined to the private sector It is a combinatorial process – science, technology + market potential + competitors + supporting regional infrastructure and services Not just technological innovation but organisational and societal innovation(e.g. the region as a ‘living lab’) It requires a synthesis and integration of dispersed and fragmented global and local knowledge ( technological, business and societal) to inform S3 choices Breaking down barriers between knowledge producers and users The ‘entrepreneurial discovery’ process and public governance(1)

4 The entrepreneurial discovery process and public governance (2) The S3 discovery process must therefore foster wide stakeholder involvement within the region (lateral) and across levels of public (central + local/regional and private sector governance (e.g. MNCs) (vertical) The how as well as the what of strategy design and implementation Incorporating the demand side perspective from civil society – the quadruple helix not just the triple helix S3 requires evidence based choices and related risks. Hence the importance of robust governance structures. These structures should ensure inclusive, open prioritisation and avoid capture by vested public sector and industrial interests

5 Who has the knowledge needed? In some regions (esp. those with small/weak private sectors) it might be universities/research organisations These tend to be plugged into national/international networks and may be better placed to make judgements on the relative strength of regional activities Unlike RTD organisations universities through teaching can build capacity on the demand side – new business formation, student enterprise, graduate placements etc – establishing the social relations which underpin the regional innovation system In summary the ‘entrepreneur’ in the context of smart specialisation needs to be understood much more broadly Universities, RTD organisations and the ‘entrepreneurial discovery’ process

6 It is essential that new demand-side perspectives are given prominence, otherwise the RIS3 exercise runs the risk of being captured by public sector lobbies (including research interests not linked to regional potential) This is of greater concern in the Less Favoured Regions where enterprise associations and other demand-side bodies tend to be weaker. Less Favoured Regions may have strong universities that can generate world class knowledge, but the universities also need to build capacity in SMEs to absorb and apply this knowledge. Calibrating demand and supply sides

7 Multi-level and cross programme governance A key objective of S3 is to increase synergy between different funding streams and policies (i.e to make connections) Regional innovation strategies will therefore have to be aligned with national strategies for research and innovation This is challenging as in most member countries, including those with devolved governments, research and education is an exclusive competence of the nation state These programmes also align with other non-regional EU policies and programmes (e.g Horizon 2020) When developing S3 strategies member states and regions will need to take account and be involved in discussion of what types of operational programmes will be presented in the partnership contract

8 Universities as ‘boundary spanners’ in multi level governance SkillsEnvironm ent ‘National’ LM TDP IND HE S&T ‘Global’ Academic kudos ‘Regional’ ‘Science park HospitalCulture village Inward investors Innovation (after Arbo and Benneworth)

9 docgener/presenta/universities2011/ universities2011_en.pdf (Or just Google ‘connecting universities to regional growth’!)

10 The mechanisms by which universities can and do contribute to development and growth 4 Key Areas; Enhancing innovation through their research activities Promoting enterprise, business development and growth Contributing to the development of human capital and skills Improving social equality through regeneration and cultural development

11 Transactional Services vs. Transformational Activities When exploring mechanisms for intervention we need to make a distinction between the impact of ‘normal’ university activity (financed as part of the core business of teaching and research) and ‘purposive’ interventions (initially funded from a source outside higher education and then ideally ‘mainstreamed’.)

12 Mechanisms to enhance innovation - examples

13 What are the issues around university participation? Universities are a critical ‘asset’ of the country and region; even more so in less favoured regions ….but Universities have often been absent from or had a minimal role in national or regional innovation strategies Technology push model has dominated - potential contribution of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to social innovation has been generally ignored The principles underlying why universities can be important agents in territorial development in the round not been well understood by public authorities While a range of mechanisms have been used with varying success, they have generally not been coordinated strategically to produce the maximum impact. To achieve this means understanding and addressing a range of barriers and challenges, both internal to the universities and in the wider enabling environment

14 The barriers Finance National HE policy vs. regional policy Regional structure and governance University Governance, Leadership and management

15 The Importance of ‘Boundary Spanning’ Boundary spanners help to overcome the sectoral and disciplinary silos that reproduce old habits and routines, locking regional economies into their traditional paths of development. Boundary spanning skills tend to emerge from activities that straddle sectors, disciplines and professions and they are invariably fashioned in action learning environments where there is a high degree of novelty associated with the activity. Examples of such activities include technology transfer, venture funding, knowledge intensive business services, and management consultancy, all of which can contribute to an overview of the regional economy. Within the boundary spanning skill set it is possible to distinguish between horizontal and vertical boundary spanning perspectives, the former attuned to inter-organisational relationships within the region, the latter oriented to relationships between the region and its national and international interlocutors.

16 Leaders set the tone and vision of the whole process, they therefore need to be people who command respect and credibility in the region. Although their reputations will be partly based on their past achievements, they also need to champion new vocations for their regions. Leadership assumes many forms. – political leadership (the people who are chosen by the electorate to represent us and to lead our governments); – managerial leadership (the people who manage the “enterprise function” in the public, private and third sectors); and – intellectual leadership (the people who play a leading role in connecting the knowledge base in universities to the worlds in and beyond their regions). The Importance Collaborative Leadership

17 An ‘action learning’ leadership development programme to build regional boundary spanning capacity

18 No boundary spanners Focus on supply side, transactional interventions Ineffective or non existent partnership Lack of a shared understanding about the challenges Entrepreneurs ‘locked out’ of regional planning The disconnected region PUBLIC SECTOR Lack of coherence between national and regional/local policies Lack of political leadership Lack of a shared voice and vision at the regional/local level PRIVATE SECTOR No coordination or representative voice with which to engage Motivated by narrow self interest and short term goals Dominated by firms with low demand or absorptive capacity for innovation HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR Seen as ‘in’ the region but not ‘of’ the region Policies and practices discourage engagement Focus on rewards for academic research and teaching

19 Generating intellectual and human capital assets for the region HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR Developing coherent policies that link territorial development to innovation and higher education PUBLIC SECTOR Investing in people and ideas that will create growth PRIVATE SECTOR Evidence based policies that support ‘smart’ innovation and growth Analysis of evidence and intelligence for planning Building the infrastructure for growth Skills development, commercialisation of research The ‘connected’ region – strong partnerships based on shared understanding of the challenges and how to overcome them

20 Capacities needed for regions to move from ‘disconnected’ to ‘connected’ Research labs Talent attraction Universities Generative Capacity Private sector investment Clusters Critical mass Absorptive Capacity Networks and associations Joint projects and shared facilities Collaborative capacity Boundary spanners Ability to create a shared vision for the future Leadership Capacity Needs consistent policies and strong institutions Needs investment in human capital and infrastructure for research


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