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Universities propel innovation in Central and Eastern Europe: EUA Smart Specialisation workshop and Expert Group meeting

20 October 2016

On 13 and 14 October 2016, the workshop on “Universities as motors of innovation in Central and Eastern Europe” took place in Warsaw, Poland back-to-back with the second meeting of EUA’s Expert Group on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). The workshop was jointly organised by EUA and CRASP (Polish Rectors’ Conference) and was hosted by the University of Warsaw.

The workshop brought together experts from different European regions, case studies and good practice examples of universities’ role in regional policy and in smart specialisation strategies. It served as a platform for sharing experiences, challenges and opportunities related to the strategic role of universities in the implementation of smart specialisation across Europe. Several high-level Polish representatives from universities and public institutions, as well as European-level speakers participated, including President of the Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula, and representatives from the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, the Directorate General for Research and Innovation and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. The workshop focused on three major themes: specific challenges for innovation in Central and Eastern Europe; strategic participation of universities in implementing innovation strategies and; cooperation across Europe – myth or reality? Through a series of case studies, the diverse roles of universities in regional policy and in RIS3, as well as the challenges and opportunities related to the role of universities in the implementation of RIS3, were discussed.

Overall, the outcomes of the workshop and the Expert Group dialogues highlighted the role of universities in developing human talent, which is instrumental in creating and sustaining innovation, as well as the importance of opening up university and innovation systems with continued political support in order to make regions more competitive. In addition, the concepts of innovation and excellence in education and research were seen as complementary and equally important. The concept of a “qualified excellence”, i.e. being excellent in research and education in the framework of the local context, taking into account its opportunities and constraints, was explored. Last but not least, the discussions also highlighted the need to raise awareness on the added value of European programmes, in order to reduce the current fragmentation of investment in Europe.

EUA is currently preparing a comprehensive report on the outcomes of both the RIS3 workshop and the Expert Group meeting, including a series of key messages on the role of universities in smart specialisation.

 

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

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Tel: +41 22 552 02 96