Designing regional development? Exploring the University of Aveiro's role in the innovation policy process

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With growing pressure to contribute to their region's development, universities are increasingly called upon to engage dynamically in innovation policy-making and governance activities. Previous studies suggest in their collaboration with local and regional government that universities can emerge as animateurs, providing guidance, consolidating networks, and ultimately activating institutional and human agency. This is especially important in the context of less-developed regions, where the unlocking of innovative potential may rest on those factors. This paper provides an extended perspective on universities’ engagement in innovation policy processes and, in a broader sense, on the collaboration between these higher education institutions and local and regional government. Through an analysis of the partnership between two Portuguese institutions, the University of Aveiro and the intermunicipal community of the region of Aveiro, this study explores the potential implications on regional innovation policy and the activation of institutional agency in a less-developed context. Policy documents, reports and interview data from 18 academics, top managers, policy-makers and other stakeholders show that while institutional expectations differ, collaborative interplays have boosted the formation and growing effectiveness of regional innovation networks, crucial for the development of less-developed regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-202
Number of pages17
JournalRegional Studies, Regional Science
Issue number1
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2019


  • capacity-building
  • engagement
  • innovation policy
  • policy process
  • regional development
  • universities


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