Hybrid event   |     |   By invitation only

Universities 4.0: New powerhouses for regional innovation and global impact?

A Science|Business closed-door hybrid roundtable, organised in partnership with Elsevier and TU Eindhoven (14:00 to 16:45 CET) – followed by networking drinks

Both in Europe and beyond, policy makers are striving to increase the sustainability and resilience of their economies and societies, in the face of a complex array of macro trends and crises. In recent years, the concept of regional innovation ecosystems (RIEs) has come to the fore as a means to achieve this. Driven by policy initiatives like the EU’s smart specialisation strategy, and supported by various funding instruments, RIEs bring together diverse public and private sector actors – including all types of universities and research institutions – around a common agenda, seeking to translate knowledge into innovation that improves citizens’ lives, boosts territorial competitiveness and inspires growth.  

Historically, universities have made valuable contributions to these ecosystems through knowledge creation and skills development across different scientific and technological domains – the core attributes of the so-called “3rd generation university”. Yet as the scale of challenge for policy makers shifts from problem resolution to systems-level transformation, there is pressure on RIEs to raise their ambitions. And given the breadth and scope of their activities, universities are uniquely equipped to lead in these future ecosystems – not only as knowledge partners for governments, industry and other stakeholders, but also as diffusers of innovation and talent into global research systems and value chains. Indeed, their ability to do so will be a defining feature of a “4th generation” university in the years ahead.  

Clearly, this scenario has major implications for decision makers at European, national, regional and institutional level. Preparations are well under way for the EU’s next 5-year legislative cycle, and in the bigger picture, deliberations will soon begin on the EU’s next multi-year budget and strategy (2028-2035), and the instruments it will deploy to achieve its goals. Against this backdrop, could the “4th generation” university concept inspire new approaches within the successors to Horizon Europe, Erasmus+ and Regional Development Fund, among others? And at the macro level, what future role for RIEs and universities in boosting Europe’s longer-term interests around industrial competitiveness, the green and digital transitions, quality of life and jobs, and regional sustainability?         

 In order to examine these topics further, on June 5 Science|Business will convene a select group of senior figures and experts to explore a ‘triple helix’ of issues: how to encourage the transition of universities towards “4th generation” status in RIEs; how to assess future impact and value creation within and beyond the ecosystem; and how to integrate new models for RIEs into future policy agendas.

Featured guests
Salla Saastamoinen
Deputy Director-General, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
Alexandr Hobza
Chief Economist, DG RTD, European Commission
Robert-Jan Smits
President of the Executive Board, Eindhoven University of Technology
Erwin Gianchandani
Assistant Director, Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, US National Science Foundation
Toril A. Nagelhus Hernes
Pro-Rector, Innovation, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Orla Feely
President, University College Dublin
Annick Castiaux
Rector, Université de Namur
Frank Piller
Professor & Co-Director, Institute for Technology and Innovation Management, RWTH Aachen University
Nick Fowler
Chief Academic Officer, Elsevier
Naomie Verstraeten
Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Brainport Development
Paul Noon
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Enterprise and Innovation, Coventry University
Andreas Pinkwart
Director, Excellence Center for Excellence for Innovation, Transfer and Entrepreneurship Dresden University of Technology
Claudio Feijoo
Full Professor & Director for Entrepreneurship, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Sjoerd Mentink,
Program Manager, Public Private Partnerships, Philips
Chiara Frencia
Secretary-General, Start-Up Europe Regions Network
Iddo Bante
Chair, Node Strategy Committee EIT Digital Europe West, EIT Health & Business Director, Digital Society Institute, University of Twente
Johan Blaus
Director, Strategic Partnerships, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm
Ignasi Salvado-Estivill
Director, Office for the Promotion of European Research Activities, Alliance4Universities
Gaëtan Claeys
Head of Brussels Office, Grand Est-Europe
Ilaria Tagliavini
Head of Operations, European Institute of Innovation and Technology
Mattias Björnmalm
Secretary General, CESAER
Andrew Ginger
Vice Provost for International Engagement, Northeastern University
Freek van Muiswinkel
Director, Entrepreneurship and Regional Partnerships, Utrecht University
Philippe Lebaron
Senior Advisor of the President, Economic Partnerships, Sorbonne University
Borbála Schenk
Head of Department, International Affairs, National Research Development and Innovation Office
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For more information, please contact [email protected]