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The role of universities in regional development: conceptual models and policy institutions in the UK, Sweden and Austria


  • Trippl, Michaela

    (CIRCLE, Lund University)

  • Sinozic, Tanja

    (Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Vienna University of Economics and Business)

  • Lawton Smith , Helen

    (Department of Management; Birkbeck, University of London)


The literature on universities’ contributions to regional development is broad and diverse. A precise understanding of how regions can potentially draw advantages from various university activities and the role of public policy institutions (imperatives and incentives) in promoting such activities is still missing. The aim of this paper is to advance a more nuanced view on universities’ contributions to regional economic and societal development. We identify and review four conceptual models: (i) the entrepreneurial university model, (ii) the regional innovation system model, (iii) the mode 2 university model, and (iv) the engaged university model. The paper demonstrates that these four models emphasise very different activities and outputs by which universities are seen to benefit their regions. We also find that these models differ markedly with respect to the policy implications that can be drawn. Analysing public policy imperatives and incentives in the UK, Austria and Sweden the paper highlights that in the UK national policies encourage and have resulted in all four university models. In Sweden and Austria policy institutions tend to privilege in particular the RIS university model, whilst at the same time there is some evidence for increasing support of the entrepreneurial university model.

Suggested Citation

  • Trippl, Michaela & Sinozic, Tanja & Lawton Smith , Helen, 2014. "The role of universities in regional development: conceptual models and policy institutions in the UK, Sweden and Austria," Papers in Innovation Studies 2014/13, Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lucirc:2014_013

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Paul Vallance & Jiří Blažek & John Edwards & Viktor Květoň, 2018. "Smart specialisation in regions with less-developed research and innovation systems: A changing role for universities?," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 36(2), pages 219-238, March.
    6. Jos van den Broek & Franziska Eckardt & Paul Benneworth, 2017. "The transformative role of universities in regional innovation systems," CHEPS Working Papers 201705, University of Twente, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS).
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    8. Andrew Johnston & Peter Wells, 2020. "Assessing the role of universities in a place-based Industrial Strategy: Evidence from the UK," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 35(4), pages 384-402, June.
    9. Mabel Sánchez-Barrioluengo & Paul Benneworth, 2015. "What makes the difference?," CHEPS Working Papers 201501, University of Twente, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS).
    10. Urbano, David & Aparicio, Sebastian & Guerrero, Maribel & Noguera, Maria & Torrent-Sellens, Joan, 2017. "Institutional determinants of student employer entrepreneurs at Catalan universities," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 271-282.
    11. Natalia Budyldina, 2018. "Entrepreneurial universities and regional contribution," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 265-277, June.
    12. Mona Nabil Demaidi & Khaled Al-Sahili, 2021. "Integrating SDGs in Higher Education—Case of Climate Change Awareness and Gender Equality in a Developing Country According to RMEI-TARGET Strategy," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(6), pages 1-21, March.
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    17. Ann Camilla Schulze-Krogh & Giuseppe Calignano, 2020. "How Do Firms Perceive Interactions with Researchers in Small Innovation Projects? Advantages and Barriers for Satisfactory Collaborations," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 11(3), pages 908-930, September.
    18. Riikka Kangas & Timo Aarrevaara, 2020. "Higher Education Institutions as Knowledge Brokers in Smart Specialisation," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(7), pages 1-15, April.
    19. Sánchez-Barrioluengo, Mabel & Benneworth, Paul, 2019. "Is the entrepreneurial university also regionally engaged? Analysing the influence of university's structural configuration on third mission performance," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 206-218.
    20. Jonas Meyer & Michael Pillei & Friedrich Zimmermann & Gernot Stöglehner, 2018. "Customized Education as a Framework for Strengthening Collaboration between Higher Education Institutions and Regional Actors in Sustainable Development—Lessons from Albania and Kosovo," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 10(11), pages 1-17, October.

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    More about this item


    universities; regional development; public policy; UK; Sweden; Austria;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy

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