Entrepreneurial Universities and Regional Innovation: Matching Smart Specialisation Strategies to Regional Needs?

Fonseca, Liliana and Salomaa, Maria (2019) Entrepreneurial Universities and Regional Innovation: Matching Smart Specialisation Strategies to Regional Needs? In: Regional Studies Annual Conference, 5th - 7th June 2019, University of Santiago de Compostela.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Universities are considered crucial institutions in regional development dynamics associated with smart specialisation strategies (RIS3). They are expected to play a leading role in the strategy process, relying on what is unique in a given region, namely the R&D and innovation domains in which that region can hope to excel (Foray, David, & Hall, 2009). However, there is evidence that a gap between discourse and practice is marking the RIS3-related regional development programmes (e.g., Iacobucci, 2014; Kroll, 2017), which can be extended to the involvement of universities in the process. Universities manage different activities within RIS3 processes, all very much dependant of territorial context, historical legacy (Breznitz & Feldman, 2012) and overall entrepreneurial architecture (Salomaa, 2018). As often is the case of universities in peripheral regions, even entrepreneurial ones, a divergence between the universities activities and the needs of the surrounding local innovation ecosystem (Charles, 2016) can lead to minimal entrepreneurial spillovers (Brown, 2016), with RIS3 processes failing to further them. Accordingly, a mismatch can be speculated between the expectations towards universities’ roles in RIS3 implementation and actual practice, and its repercussions on a regional innovation ecosystem.
This paper aims to reflect on an entrepreneurial university’s collaboration with a regional government administration in RIS3 implementation. The paper addresses the extent to which the role played by universities in a region’s innovation and entrepreneurial practice matches or mismatches the smart specialisation strategic outline. As an in-depth case-study of the University of Aveiro (Portugal), it draws on both quantitative and qualitative data, with an analysis of RIS3 approved projects in the Portuguese NUTS II Centro region, and interviews with key actors within the university and the regional administration. Through this, it weighs the contribution of entrepreneurial universities to the RIS3 goals, drawing lessons for public policy and discussing the future of RIS3.

Keywords:universities, regional development, structural funds, smart specialisation
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
N Business and Administrative studies > N215 Organisational Development
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K410 Regional Planning
L Social studies > L430 Public Policy
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:36255
Deposited On:20 Jun 2019 09:09

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