ECIU University, an initiative of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities, has launched a joint long-term research strategy on smart regions, building on the rapid development of digital infrastructures across Europe.
The aim is to create a unified, strong, smart and competitive Europe, and to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal, such as affordable and clean energy and sustainable communities.
With strategic input from the ECIU University partners identified four themes including: energy and sustainability; circular economy; transport and mobility; and resilient communities.
Speaking about the approach, Olga Wessels, Head of ECIU Brussels, said:
“This strategy strengthens the profiling of the ECIU University towards European stakeholders, programmes and funds. We further develop our expertise in mission-oriented Smart Regions research which is a nice fit with the current EU developments in research funding. Therefore, I believe that this is the start of many more activities that support ECIU University and all of its members.”
As digital transformations to low urbanised areas require efforts from many stakeholders, the report highlights two cross-cutting concerns – human capital and co-creation – that need to be addressed to make these transformations successful.
The strategy makes a number of recommendations, taking into account the many problems that cities are confronted with also hold for more rural regions, yet the required solutions may be rather different.
Strategic decisions that ECIU partners and others should take include:
● Put the university at the core of regional processes, especially when those universities have an explicit role in boosting social-economic well-being.
● Promote and actively work in an interdisciplinary manner
● Build trust among stakeholders before working on and defining regional processes.
● Invest in talent; Low-urbanised regions necessarily need to rely more on qualifying individuals instead of competing on attracting talents.
● Include the international connectedness of regions.
● Invest in synergies with education, research and funds, so that various policies can strengthen each other.
Commenting on these recommendations, Maarten van Steen, University of Twente, said:
"These recommendations reflect the multiple facets of addressing Smart Regions, and above all the multitude of stakeholders that need to participate in a truly joint effort. This is a long-term endeavor for which reason alone we should establish a strong foundation for the current and next generation of researchers and practitioners to shape our future."
To view the full report, visit https://media.dcu.ie/media/ECIUfullreport/.
A summary of the report is also available at https://media.dcu.ie/media/ECIUsummary/
Contributors to this report include: Maarten van Steen (University of Twente), Anders Riel Muller (University of Stavanger), Daniel Franco (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Fabrizio Granelli and Dario Petri (University of Trento), Mika Grunström (Tampere University), Mário Rodrigues (University of Aveiro), Noel O’Connor (Dublin City University), Zaneta Stasiskiene (Kaunas University of Technology), Martin Lehman (Aalborg University), Michael Peolsson (Linköping University), Roberto Rodríguez (Tecnológico de Monterrey), Olga Wessels (ECIU).