The fifth EPRC webinar of 2022 was held on June 15th (11:00 – 12:00 UK) over Zoom. Dr Ridvan Cinar – Research Fellow at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences – presented on the topic “Towards an engaged university in the periphery: Innovation, regional development and institutional change”.
Cinar argued that the increasing visibility of the impact of various societal challenges, such as climate change, territorial disparity, income inequality and ageing population, has brought the role of innovation to the fore in academic and policy debates. Universities are increasingly expected to mobilise their resources for innovation to address these societal challenges by engaging with external – often local – stakeholders. Such expectations are particularly high in peripheral regions, generally characterised by a weak institutional landscape. Addressing societal challenges requires universities to move beyond traditional regional engagement modes. This implies a move from technology transfer and industry collaboration to engaging with other types of innovation (e.g., social) and societal partners (e.g., municipalities and citizens) as well. It is a transformation from a mainly economic-oriented third mission ingrained within the ‘entrepreneurial university’ to a new one involving social and environmental oriented regional engagement, which generally manifests within ‘the engaged university’ model.
Cinar’s presentation was based on his doctoral thesis, developed as a Marie Curie Fellow in the RUNIN (The role of universities in innovation and regional development) project. His thesis conceptualizes transformation from the entrepreneurial to the engaged university as an institutional change process and focuses on the dynamics of this process (e.g., interplay between different institutions and their impact on universities). It discussed the impact of five institutions namely, the state, the market, the professions, the community and the corporation on the transformation of a university to an engaged type in two peripheral regions – the University of Twente in the region of Twente, in the Netherlands, and the University of Aveiro in the region of Aveiro, in Portugal.
Rıdvan Çınar is an interdisciplinary researcher with a keen interest in innovation studies, regional studies and higher education studies. He is currently employed as a research associate at Mohn Center for Innovation and Regional Development, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), working on UniS4Vest (The role of universities in sustainable smart specialization in Vestlandet) project. He has recently completed a PhD in Responsible Innovation and Regional Development at HVL. During his PhD studies, he spent two semesters at University of Twente, the Netherlands and European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) for fieldwork as a visiting researcher. Previously, he was a Marie Curie Fellow in European Commission funded RUNIN (The role of universities in innovation and regional development) project in Portugal.
Future EPRC webinars will delve into topics of sustainability, regional policy and development. Please see the present schedule for this year here.
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