DIME Work Package 1.3: Universities: Spinoffs and Progenitors of Knowledge Exchange Networks
A principal source of dynamic tension in virtually all Member States is university-industry relationships. It is generally expected that universities will play a greater role in supporting the production of and access to knowledge required by industry, while universities are also expected to continue to improve the quality and qualifications of the human resources available for employment. Much of the attention in public debates and research focuses on the balance, as well as the complementarities, between industry-oriented research, curiosity-driven research, and teaching.
Less well appreciated, but of great significance, is the contribution that universities make to regional and sectoral development. Universities are important ‘engines of growth’ within regions to the extent that they provide a supply of graduates whose entrepreneurial activities establish regional specialisations or ‘islands’ of advanced development. Some universities are able to overcome the disciplinary boundaries that often constrain direct contributions to sectoral development. Nor have the conditions that support these contributions been adequately appreciated. While the role of universities in regional economic growth is integral to the history of the university, these contributions are often asserted through the use of anecdotal and historical evidence.
DIME WorkPackage 1.3 aims at pulling together contributions towards a better understanding of how universities contribute to regional and sectoral developments. Participants to the WorkPackage devote their research efforts to a careful examination of the role of universities in contributing to local or global firms’ inventive activity (as documented both by patents and innovation counts), to localised ‘spinoffs’, and to the formation of knowledge networks supporting sectoral development.
In particular, three lines of actions are pursued:
Promotion of qualitative research on the motives of researchers and universities as well as their industrial partners in forming linkages that lead to spinoffs or to sustained collaboration. Two mobility grants have been assigned to as many young PhD students, whose dissertation requires in-depth interviews to university scientists and/or administrators in more than one country.
Creation of a working paper series supporting interaction between the different institutions conducting research in this field including institutions that are not presently part of the DIME network.