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Universities and the Knowledge Economy in the UK national and regional perspective


Expansion in demand for more formal kinds of knowledge ... launched 1999 - first tranche of 60 million for three-year projects in 87 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Universities and the Knowledge Economy in the UK national and regional perspective

Universities and the Knowledge Economyin the UK
national and regional perspective
  • David Charles
  • CURDS and
  • University of Newcastle upon Tyne Business School

Knowledge and the regional economy
  • Expansion in demand for more formal kinds of
  • Growth of knowledge intensive products and
  • Commodification and trade in knowledge
  • Professionalisation and credentialisation of
    occupations - the rise of the symbolic analysts
  • Globalisation and market intelligence
  • a markedly accelerated supply of and demand for
    marketable knowledge - Gibbons
  • Firm competitiveness depends on capability and
    reputation rather than market position
  • Regions are not immune to globalisation

Clusters and regional innovation systems
  • The concept of clusters developed to explain
    national or regional success
  • Innovation seldom takes place in isolation but is
    systemic. The cluster is a reduced scale
    innovation system
  • Clusters as networks of production of strongly
    interdependent firms linked to each other in a
    value-adding production chain.
  • Clusters mostly also encompass strategic
    alliances with universities, research institutes,
    knowledge-intensive business services, bridging
    institutions (brokers, consultants) and
  • Communities of practice and networks of practice
  • Knowledge communities e.g. Motorsport cluster

Creative industries cluster as a knowledge
Creativity and talent
  • Cluster success requires and encourages flow of
    talented individuals
  • Especially important in new economy, multimedia,
    creative industries etc
  • Work in the US on the geography of talent focuses
    on role of urban amenities
  • Association between creative employment and open,
    vibrant communities
  • Successful places are cosmopolitan, young people
    oriented, buzzing etc

Role of universities as knowledge institutions
  • Attractors and generators of talent
  • Suppliers of knowledge not just technologies
  • Increasing the stock of formal knowledge but also
    informal - know how and who networking and
  • Facilitating learning at various levels
  • Contributing to local governance and learning
    region strategies
  • Community action and the social and cultural
    development of regions
  • Contributing to thinking on sustainable regional
  • Role in shaping the quality of place

Triple helix model
  • Universities, government and industry
  • Integration between overlapping institutions
    rather than flows through intermediaries
  • Blurring of distinctions between institutional
  • Universities assume entrepreneurial role
  • Firms take on an academic dimension
  • Hence a spiral model of interaction

Understanding the role of universities in
innovation systems
  • The context of the national regime of
    appropriation and HE governance
  • The interaction between the national and regional
    scales - national policies for regional
  • The negotiation between HE and regional actors at
    the regional scale - embedding the university in
    the regional system

Selectivity in university commercialisation
  • Dilemmas of diversity of knowledge
  • Need for specialisation in commercialisation
  • Combining responsiveness and opportunity-seeking
    with focus and business development
  • Specialist centres and cluster discourses as
    means to resolve dilemma

UK policy on clusters and universities
  • 'The role of our universities in the economy is
    crucial. They are powerful drivers of innovation
    and change in science and technology, the arts,
    humanities, design and other creative
    disciplines. They produce people with knowledge
    and skills they generate new knowledge and
    import it from diverse sources and they apply
    knowledge in a range of environments. They are
    also the seedbed for new industries, products and
    services and are at the hub of business networks
    and industrial clusters of the knowledge
    economy.' (DTI/DfEE, 2001)

Scales of university engagement with clusters
  • National national research programmes and
    centres of excellence
  • Regional RDA initiatives with dedicated cluster
  • Local/micro-clusters small scale initiatives
    with local funding or university-initiated
  • Internal to the university structures for
    industrial liaison or research organisation

UK Government initiatives
  • DTI white paper in 1998, Building the Knowledge
    Driven Economy
  • 12 Science Enterprise Centres through the Science
    Enterprise Challenge
  • Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI)
  • University Challenge Fund with funding from the
    Treasury, Wellcome Trust and Gatsby Charitable
  • Higher Education Reach Out to Business and the
  • launched 1999 - first tranche of 60 million for
    three-year projects in 87 institutions or
  • second round 22 million in 2000 with 50 awards
    (11 collaborative projects)

New round since 2001
  • 2001 DTI/DfEE White Paper, Opportunity for All
    in a World of Change
  • University innovation Centres, large,
    regionally-based, research and innovation centres
    often focused on collaboration between HEIs e.g.
    nanotechnology in Newcastle
  • Higher Education Innovation Fund
  • RDA initiatives through single pot
  • Different schemes in Scotland, Wales and NI

UK survey evidence on commercialisation - HEBIS
  • Significant increase in commercialisation
  • Formal research based activity highly
    concentrated in old universities, but
    complemented by SME and skills work in new
  • Aggregate results for UK compare well with US
    when adjusted for research expenditure
  • Significant expansion of activity currently
    underway through new regional funds and new third
    role funding from central government
  • Professionalisation and mainstreaming of
    intermediary activities

  • Need for HEI investment in better monitoring
  • Issues of HEI management of outreach functions
  • Government needs to recognise value of diversity
    in approach rather than a single model
  • Overcoming problems of fragmentation of
    university initiatives
  • Focus on future opportunities for regions and for
    universities to play a leading role
  • Mechanisms to identify priorities importance of
    universities in regional governance structures
  • Shift in notion of success from attraction of
    firms to the capacity for regional clusters to
    evolve and be self-sustaining
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