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Engagement in regional ecosystems

Universities and other research institutions are faced with increasing expectations to drive local and national socio-economic development and address global challenges. The policy context in Europe and many countries worldwide emphasizes the role of higher education in local development due to the shift in regional policy designed to reduce regional disparities.
Smart specialization strategies based on the local partnerships within quadruple helix model (HEIs, policy makers, business and CSOs) mobilise the local potential in order to develop new forms of activities, policies, services that address both local and global needs and challenges. The new forms of innovations are developed e.g. user-driven innovations, open innovations that lead to the new forms of organisations like Living Labs, defined as user-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on systematic user co-creation approach, integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings.
Social innovations are also attracting more attention and as they are usually based on a multi-stakeholder bottom up approach they are seen as promising tools to drive social changes. The keyword for all those activities is engagement. The process can take different forms depending on the local strategy and university choices but it usually encompasses various activities including new teaching curricula, R&D collaboration, knowledge transfer etc. (Jaanna Pukkaa, 2017, GUNI report). With this newsletter we want to attract your attention to past or actual activities that concentrate on community engagement activities: how can they be developed, accelerated and implemented in order to achieve real impact on regional development.

Initiatives You Should Know
Initiatives You Should Know →

The Thinking Smart Project has been developing a self-assessment tool for obtaining a structured feedback on the innovation potential and the capacity of the organisations for change and interactions with external stakeholders. The self-assessment is based on the answers to a series of questions designed to this purpose and in result the universities can receive a structured feedback on what their current position is with diverse development models that can be adopted. The survey that presents a foundation of the assessment tool is entirely anonymous and pointing to possible directions of change. Universities are invited to test it out and to provide their feedback on the utility of the Thinking Smart Tool. The tool is currently available in English. More information on the toolkit and webinars is available on our website

This Might Be a Smart Thing

Visit the Thinking Smart website regularly


Smart Events
EUA RIS3 Workshop

Universities in regional innovation ecosystems: coherent policies for Europe beyond 2020 in Tartu, 17th October 2017
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SGroup-UNICA-Compostela Group Joint Conference
Shaping the social impact of European research: policies, strategies, funding, Brussels, 6th November 2017
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A Smart Case To Learn About

The Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, a member university of the SGroup European Universities’ Network, presents an interesting case of a university deeply engaged in the regional development forming not only one of the important pillars of innovation next to the regional authorities and the business environment, but also an initiator and an important actor in the creation of the Brainport Foundation, and subsequently, the Brainport Region - one of Europe’s most prominent and innovative high-tech centres. The Brainport Region for over 20 years operates in the system of smart specialisation generating innovation. The University with other key stakeholders work together on solutions to major societal challenges in areas like health, mobility, energy, food and safety and security.

The regional triple helix actors have commonly developed the “Brainport 2020” strategy that was launched early 2011: the strategic action programme for the future economic development of South-East Netherlands. Brainport 2020 has the clear mission to strengthen the technology position, to keep translating the knowledge into marketable products and services, and to fortify the international competitive position.

High Tech Systems and Materials, Chemistry and LifeTec are the existing top clusters which are at the core of the focus as regards content. Brainport 2020 is an integral programme covering all aspects of the knowledge economy (labour market – People; research and development – Technology; entrepreneurship – Business; quality of life and infrastructure – Basics; and Governance), in which cooperation is central (between government and companies; in between companies; between countries and regions; and between education/knowledge institutes and companies). As such Brainport 2020 is working towards a thriving, globally competitive innovation ecosystem within South-East Netherlands – with Brainport Eindhoven as its geographic heart – that will actively contribute to the Grand Challenges as they have been identified in the EU 2020 Strategy. TUE also has formed a Living Lab utilizing its campus as a laboratory in which researchers and students in collaboration with the business community put tomorrow’s solutions into practice even today. This way the campus is used for giving tangible substance to innovations in practice, and for their testing and further development.

More information about the Brainport Region and its success factors is available here

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Relevant Links
GUNI Report Higher Education In The World

This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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