Webinar on the Role of Universities in Regional Innovation Policies

The eighth EPRC webinar of 2022, and the second in the new academic year, was held on November 16th (11:00 – 12:00 UK) over Zoom. Dr Liliana Fonseca from EPRC, a former Early Career Researcher of the University of Aveiro (PT) and the H2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Innovative Training Network RUNIN, presented on the topic “The Role of Universities in Regional Innovation Policies and Practices”.

Dr Liliana Fonseca explained current innovation policy discourse emphasises collaborative methodologies for unlocking development potential in a region. Policymaking is inevitably relying on the collaboration of a diverse group of actors – higher education institutions, businesses and industry, third-sector entities, etc. – to reach a common innovation and development agenda. She argued that as key institutions in the knowledge and learning society, universities have been highlighted as nexus in these regional innovation strategy processes, bearing this with increasing expectations regarding their regional engagement and contribution to innovation dynamics.

Fonseca’s presentation was based on her doctoral thesis realised at the University of Aveiro (PT), defended in February 2022. Her research primarily analysed three main cases of regionally-engaged universities: the University of Aveiro, Portugal; the University of Twente, the Netherlands; and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. It sought to understand how universities engage with regional and sub-regional governments in the regional innovation policy process, and how universities can better address regional needs through this engagement. Among the findings presented, Dr Fonseca suggested universities and government interact in a self-reinforcing interplay that has the potential to shape organisational structures.


Dr Liliana Fonseca is a Research Associate at the European Policies Research Centre. At EPRC she manages the Net Zero Industrial Cluster Exchange network and has contributed to the H2020 project TRACER, supporting formerly coal-intensive regions in their transition towards more sustainable forms of energy. She has also carried out public policy research for the IQ-Net and EoRPA networks and the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, leading briefing papers on the Just Transition and the prioritisation of environmental sustainability in Cohesion Policy. Between 2017-2020 she was an Early Stage Research Fellow of the H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network RUNIN (The Role of Universities in Innovation and Regional Development), in which she developed her PhD research (University of Aveiro, PT) on universities’ engagement in regional innovation policy like that of Smart Specialisation, through international comparative research. Her research interests include sustainability, governance, innovation and urban and rural development.


Dr Liliana Fonseca’s presentation can be accessed here, and the webinar recording can be viewed on the EPRC’s YouTube page here.

Future EPRC webinars will delve into sustainability, regional policy and development topics.

If you would like to attend, watch out for updates and registrations by following @eprc_eu on Twitter, European Policies Research Centre on LinkedIn, or register for our webinar mailing list via marie.c.devine@strath.ac.uk.


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