A new book for the Regions and Cities series was published on the 27th August. Universities and Regional Economic Development, edited by Paul Benneworth, explores the roles that universities can play in peripheral regions and how they might contribute to the processes of regional economic development and innovative growth.  This new book is aimed at academics, policy-  makers and practitioners and conveys a sense of realism and ambition for all those concerned with building successful regional innovation strategies at the peripheries of the knowledge economy.

Prior to its publication, we asked Paul Benneworth to reflect on its significance:

“There’s a huge amount of pressure at the moment facing universities to contribute to the development of their regions and we are seeing a number of ‘best practice’ models being floated to guide partners.  And that should worry us in regional studies: since the RSA’s 2005 Aalborg conference, I’ve been sceptical of ‘happy family stories’ of regional partners working seamlessly together for collective end goals.  With universities pressured to many tasks with a non-regional focus such as excellent research and internationalisation, we can’t assume that universities will take a regional mission seriously.

And the urgency of these pressures means that regional studies risks basing our understanding on a handful of lucky places where all the pieces fell into place.  So where better to build an understanding of universities’ regional contributions than where there’s been a real struggle to make a difference?  If you can find universities creating benefits against the odds, then we can be confident that it’s the universities and regional partnerships that made a difference.  That was the inspiration behind my new Cities & Regions volume, Universities and Regional Economic Development, to look at those places at risk of getting left behind in the knowledge economy to see how universities can really make a difference.

From the remote Arctic north to the Algarve, and from the Dutch German border to the border with Russia, this edited book presents ten eye-catching European examples of university-regional engagement in peripheral regions.  We argue that new policy thinking is needed focused on taking a ‘good’ step forward not copying what the ‘best’ places have done.  We hope that a more ‘effectual’ and less causal entrepreneurial discovery process can help Europe’s periphery widen their view of options beyond the usual suspects to build authentic smart, social and sustainable regional economies.”

Paul is a senior researcher at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands and Agderforskning, Kristiansand, Norway.  He has edited three other books in the Regions and Cities series (The Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks, Making 21st Century Knowledge Complexes and The Rise of the English Regions?) and we are anticipating that this volume will be of interest across a wide range of disciplinary fields, alongside those policy-makers involved in regional economic development.

We greatly appreciate the time that Paul has taken to write his reflection for us, and we would like to thank for him and Routledge for their continued support for the Cities and regions series. We cannot, however, express our thanks in better words that Paul uses in the preface of Universities and Regional Economic Development, so with his permission we requote him here:

“A word of thanks is certainly due to the publishers, Routledge, and in particular their dedicated staff on the Regions and Cities series who worked with me on this volume, namely Lisa Lavalle, Emily Kindleysides, Elanor Best and Natalie Tomlinson. This is my fourth volume in this series, and this reflects the great enthusiasm and support they provide their editors with at a time when academic publishers are increasingly driven by profits rather than the nurturing of new ideas. It has been a great pleasure to work with them on this volume, and I hope to continue this relationship into the future.”

You can follow Paul on Twitter @heravalue (and  follow us too @regstud)

Cover of the Universities and Regional Development book