The Role of Universities in Regional Development: Conceptual Models and Policy Institutions in the UK, Sweden and Austria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The literature on universities' contributions to regional development is broad and diverse. A precise understanding of how regions may draw advantages from various university activities and the role of public policy institutions in promoting such activities is still missing. The aim of this paper is to provide a framework for analysing universities' contributions to regional economic and societal development in differing national contexts and the policy institutions that underpin them. To do this, we review four conceptual models: the entrepreneurial university model, the regional innovation system (RIS) model, the mode 2 university model and the engaged university model. The paper demonstrates that these four models emphasize very different activities and outputs by which universities are seen to benefit regional economy and society. It is also shown that these models differ markedly with respect to the policy implications and practice. Analysing some of the public policy imperatives and incentives in the UK, Austria and Sweden, the paper highlights that in the UK, policies encourage all four university models. In contrast, in Sweden and Austria, policy institutions tend to privilege the RIS university model, whilst at the same time, there is some evidence for increasing support of the entrepreneurial university model.


  • Michaela Trippl
  • Tanja Sinozic
  • Helen Lawton Smith
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Sweden, Austria, public policy, universities, UK, regional development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1722-1740
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch