How do prevailing National and Regional Innovation Systems affect university contribution, and transformation towards building an Entrepreneurial University? Insights from a comparative regional case study of the Life Sciences disciplinary area: Stockholm and Vienna
Swanson, Anne (2015)
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MDP in Research and Innovation in Higher Education
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Increasing university contribution to innovation systems could potentially contribute towards increasing economic growth and competitiveness within EU Member States. The role of universities has been changing over the years, with the move from first mission (teaching) and second mission (research) activities, towards embracing third mission (closer connections with society), as more emphasis is placed upon universities connecting with society at large. Universities have to do more with less, whilst also expanding their reach to society, and justifying their overall existence to the public. Nevertheless, basic university funding has been decreasing over the years, requiring universities to respond to their changing funding environment. This has required a professional response from university management in order for universities to become more entrepreneurial, and function more efficiently within their contextual environments, which has become a central mission for some universities. Therefore, understanding how prevailing regional and national innovation systems affect university contribution and transformation towards becoming more entrepreneurial is paramount. This study explored which actors, mechanisms, organisational barriers and enablers are present within the system that affect university contribution, and how universities are transforming in response to interactions within the innovation system. Interviews were carried out with a variety of university and external innovation system actors, to gain insights, and compare this anomaly within the Stockholm and Vienna regions. Aside from the influential nature of industry and bridging organisations, it is clear that government and its associated agencies have a strong influence on how universities interact and transform. This results from university interaction with a variety of government funded programmes (and their attached rules), and prevailing legislation which affects how autonomous universities are within their given environments. Nevertheless, a lack of available funding and infrastructure was considered a major barrier towards increasing contribution to the innovation system. Therefore, an increase in venture capital to overcome the "Valley of Death", further mechanisms to promote interaction, the implementation of more long-term initiatives such as Competence Centres, and the triangulation of policies areas are needed to stimulate development of technology-transfer. Universities must also analyse their current organisational structures, both formal and informal, in order to stimulate cross-disciplinary working, embed entrepreneurialism, and create a professionalised business model which is more accessible by external innovation actors. This requires well-designed transformation processes phased over the long-term, and implemented through strong leadership and the propagation of trust within the university system. Addressing these issues should alleviate current blockages within the system, and thus promote efficiencies and economic growth.
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