SOTA Review

University research and regional development

ERC SOTA Review No 25

Associated Themes
  • Innovation

University research contributes to regional development through the way it becomes incorporated into different kinds of ‘products’ that make technological knowledge more accessible for local innovating companies. However, universities do not exclusively contribute through their research; their expenditure effects can be important, and teaching activities building regional human capital can also contribute to region’s territorial innovation capacity.
University research contributes in many different ways to regional development, not only through formal commercialisation activities and supporting human capital development, but also through informal engagement & strategic leadership activities. Universities’ main role is as a connection point to global knowledge resources in ways that make that knowledge more easily available to local partners. This means that universities’ regional development contributions are strongly shaped by the regional absorption capacity for the knowledge they import: in less favoured regions their contribution needs infrastructure to help less-innovative firms absorb new knowledge. Moreover, regional development is never a core mission for universities in comparison to teaching and research: stimulating a regional mission involves creating opportunities for mutually beneficial interaction between universities and regional partners.