Smart specialisation (RIS3): European workshop on universities as regional lead institutions

Credits: © University of Graz

Organised by EUA in collaboration with Universities Austria (UNIKO) and the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) within the framework of the EUA Expert Group on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3)

© University of Graz








More photos of the EUA Annual Workshop on RIS3 available here.

Universities are more connected than ever before to the regional economy, having an important impact on competitiveness and performance of regions. However, their societal, cultural and long-term impacts are difficult to unambiguously identify and measure. It is important to fully capitalise on tangible and intangible assets that universities can offer for the benefit of culture, society and the economy of regions in order to maximise their contribution in developing regional innovation ecosystems. One of the main challenges that European universities are facing in this regard in the role which they are playing in the design, implementation and monitoring of Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3). RIS3 is the basis for the allocation of the European Structural and Investment Funds to European regions. One of the main aims of RIS3 is to foster the innovation capabilities of regions by promoting university-business interactions and a research-based innovation model. Universities are expected to play a key role to achieve these aims.

Organised in the framework of the activities of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the goal of this workshop is to discuss visions for universities in regional innovation ecosystems beyond 2020 and to develop a series of recommendations to broaden and clarify the concept of impact of universities on their regional innovation ecosystems. The discussion will be supported by a series of inspiring talks including evidence of good practices showcased by universities leading education, research and innovation initiatives within their innovation regional strategies.

The workshop is addressed to university leaders (rectors, vice-rectors, heads of administration, etc.), municipal, regional and national policy-makers, and all other stakeholders interested in regional innovation. The workshop is the fourth in a series of workshops jointly organised by National Rectors’ Conferences and the European University Association (EUA) on Smart Specialisation in close cooperation with the EUA RIS3 Expert Group.

For practical details, please consult the dedicated website.

Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the EUA Research and Innovation team at

More information about the RIS3 Expert Group is available here.

  • Programme Overview

    09.00 - 09.15
    Welcome Addresses
    • Welcome words from the Organising Committee (UNIKO; CRUI; EUA):
    • Peter Riedler, Vice-Rector of the University of Graz, Austria; EUA-RIS3 Expert Group Member representing UNIKO
    • Sauro Longhi, Rector, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy; Board member of CRUI
    • Peter Haring Bolívar, Vice-Rector for Research, University of Siegen, Germany; Chair of the EUA-RIS3 Expert Group
    • Martina Kaufmann, Member of the Austrian Parliament, Austria
    09.15 - 10.30
    Setting the scene
    • Alessandro Rainoldi, Head of Unit for Territorial Development, Joint Research Centre, European Commission “Regions and Universities: Building strategic partnerships for smart specialisation”
    • Armin Mahr, Head of Strategy Unit, Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Austria “The Lead Institutions Initiative: Smart specialisation for internationally visible knowledge places”
    • Sauro Longhi, Rector, Università Politecnica delle Marche and CRUI, Italy; Board member of CRUI “Collaborative platforms for supporting innovation in the regional economy”
    • Thomas Jorgensen, Senior Policy Coordinator, European University Association “EUA Ecosystem Innovation Project on impact of universities: first results

    • Chair: Peter Riedler, Vice-Rector of the University of Graz, Austria; EUA-RIS3 Expert
      Group Member

    10.30 - 11.00
    Coffee break
    11.00 - 12.15
    Economic, societal, cultural and long-term impacts of universities on their regional innovation ecosystems
    • Philip McCann, Chair in Urban and Regional Economics, Sheffield University Management School, UK “Universities as important players in Smart Specialisation strategies”
    • Thomas Krautzer, Head of Economic & History Institute, University of Graz, Austria; “From an old industrial area to a modern knowledge region. The role of the
      Universities in Styria’s economic transformation”
    • Helena Acheson, Managing Partner, c3 - solutions Stuttgart, Germany “Joined up Thinking – Joined up Doing: strategic partnerships for innovation and
      economic impact”
    • Athina Karvounaraki, Statistical Officer, Knowledge for Finance, Innovation and Growth Unit, Joint Research Centre, European Commission “A Regional Innovation Impact Assessment Framework for Universities”

    • Chair: Lidia Borrell-Damian, Director for Research & Innovation, European University
    12.15 - 13.15
    13.15 - 14.30
    Universities in their regional innovation ecosystems: designing, implementing and monitoring RIS3
    • Päivi Ekdahl, Director of Regional Development, Regional Council of Lapland, and Harri Malinen, Senior Expert, Lapland University, Finland “RIS3 in Lapland - University of Lapland’s role in the designing, implementing and monitoring”
    • Angelita Luciani, ERDF ROP Managing Authority, Regione Toscana, Italy “Universities and RIS3 in Tuscany”
    • Daniele Carati, Director of Research Department, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium “Boosting ICT innovation in the Brussels Capital Region”
    • Silvano Bertini, Head of Research, Innovation and Sustainable Economy Unit, Regione Emilia-Romagna, Italy
      “The role of the University system in S3 implementation in Emilia-Romagna”

      Chair: Donato Iacobucci, Rector’s delegate for Innovation and Technology Transfer; Marche Polytechnic University, Italy; EUA-RIS3 Expert Group Member

    14.30 - 15.00
    Coffee break
    15.00 - 16.15
    Entrepreneurial education and training for regional development
    • Alfred Gutschelhofer, Head of the Department of Corporate Leadership and Entrepreneurship, University of Graz, Austria
      “The Uni-Graz entrepreneurship hub - the tricky path from awareness to startup reality”
    • Karl Tombre, Vice-President European and International Strategy, Université de Lorraine, France, EUA-RIS3 Expert Group Member “Entrepreneurial training at Université de Lorraine: learn to design, learn to combine, learn to take risks, learn to network”
    • Christine Volkmann, UNESCO-Chair in Entrepreneurship and Intercultural Management; Chair in Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, University of Wuppertal, Germany
      “The role of universities in strengthening regional entrepreneurial development - the case of Wuppertal”
    • Jonathan Potter, Head Entrepreneurship Policy and Analysis Unit, OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities “HEInnovate: A guiding framework for the innovative and entrepreneurial higher education institution”

    • Chair: Ray O’Neill, Vice-President for Innovation of the National University of Ireland
      Maynooth, Ireland; Vice-Chair of the EUA-RIS3 Expert Group

    16.15 - 16.45
    Coffee break
    16.45 - 18.00
    Roundtable discussion: Visions for Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation
    • Martine Rahier, EUA Vice-President and Chair of EUA Research Policy Working Group, former Rector, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland 
    • Jana Kolar, Member of the High-Level Group of Innovators for a European Innovation Council; Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium
    • Katja Reppel, Deputy Head of Unit for Smart and Sustainable Growth, DG REGIO, European Commission
    • Friederike Welter, Professor at University of Siegen, President of IfM Bonn, Germany
    • Taina Tukiainen, Member of the Cabinet of the First Vice-President, European Committee of the Regions, Professor at Aalto University, Finland

      Chair: Peter Haring Bolívar, Vice-Rector for Research, University of Siegen, Germany; Chair of the EUA-RIS3 Expert Group

    18.00 - 18.15
    Conclusions and final remarks
    • Final remarks by Christa Neuper, Rector, University of Graz, Austria
    18.15 - 18.45
    Networking drinks
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