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Positive regional effects from university – region collaborations

Prestigious Austrian grant to fund study at the MODUL University Vienna

The regional effects of non-profit collaboration between universities and their region is the focus of a new research project carried out at MODUL University Vienna. The study, which is headed by Dr. Verena Radinger-Peer, looks at knowledge transfer processes between selected universities and the regions in which they are located in three European regions, including Linz in Austria. The project is funded by the Hertha Firnberg Programme from the Austrian Science Fund FWF, a grant which aims to improve the career prospects of top female scientists. With the awarding of the coveted grant to a scientist from an international private university, basic research on higher education is now experiencing both national endorsement and strong support.

Universities should interact with the industry – that is how knowledge is turned into profit, which is good for national economy. – Put very succinctly, this is the impression possibly conveyed by the priorities set in politics and academia in recent years. However, the picture is gradually becoming more nuanced and the project "HE-RO Higher Education Institutions - region collaboration'* will make a substantial contribution. It will investigate how higher education institutions (HEIs) in three European regions – including Linz – collaborate and interact with regional and local actors. This project is made possible by the prestigious Hertha Firnberg Programme, funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, which seeks to improve the career prospects of top female scientists in the early phase of their scientific career.


In the study, which is due to begin soon, the grant holder and project leader, Dr. Radinger-Peer, from the Department of Public Governance and Sustainable Development at MODUL University Vienna, will investigate the impact of HEI collaboration on knowledge transfer from different aspects: "Collaboration with HEIs leads to an immediate and direct transfer of knowledge to their surroundings. Moreover, it raises awareness about new technologies and opportunities for development. In general, it boosts the capacity for problem-solving in a region. At the same time, the processes for exchange depend on the institutional context of general organizational conditions, but also on factors such as history, culture, incentive systems etc. All of these aspects will be scientifically analyzed," Dr. Radinger-Peer explains. Although the effects of collaboration between HEIs and regional actors are known, past studies have primarily focused on profit-oriented activities. The research project to be conducted at MODUL University Vienna will therefore provide a fresh perspective.


The aim of the study is to identify processes in which HEIs and regional actors learn to interact in knowledge-based, problem-solving non-profit activities, and to evaluate how this affects the participating organizations. Furthermore, the study will investigate if and when such interaction and transformation processes achieve legitimacy and start being taken for granted.

The processes will be analyzed in three European regions: Linz in Austria, Enschede in the Netherlands and either Lund in Sweden or Braunschweig in Germany. In terms of method, Dr. Radinger-Peer will spare no effort: "We will look at historical records dating back to up to 30 years and analyze data from archives as well as current material. We will also conduct surveys and in-depth interviews, and create focus groups with selected stakeholders." The study leader's approach will allow for analysis of the two essential aspects of the complex interaction between HEIs and regional actors: 1. How do HEIs become actors in regional governance and non-profit problem-solving processes? 2. Which factors and general conditions influence interaction between the HEI and the region where it is situated?


Overall, the study is highly relevant for the EU's current growth strategy (Europe 2020). The strategy aims to establish knowledge- and innovation-based regions - whereby HEIs have a central role to play. Dr. Radinger-Peer, who works at MODUL University Vienna, is perfectly suited to analyze to what extent they fulfill this role, as she has previously been able to identify the migration behavior of highly-qualified graduates and the establishment of start-ups as important mechanisms in knowledge transfer in Austria. Her acquired expertise has now also received recognition from the Austrian Science Fund FWF by way of the highly-coveted Hertha Firnberg Grant, which will fund her current project. This will help the 32-year-old to pursue her budding scientific career, which is being accompanied and supported by her mentor Prof. Harvey Goldstein (MODUL University Vienna), as well as by an international advisory board.

*Region collaboration. How HEIs and local and regional actors 'learn' to interact and collaborate effectively in knowledge based problem-solving activities – a cross-country analysis of European Case Studies

About MODUL University Vienna (status October 2015)

MODUL University Vienna is an international private university in Austria and is owned by the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. It offers study programs (BBA, BSc, MSc, MBA and PhD programs) in the areas of international business and management, new media technology, public governance & administration and sustainable development, as well as tourism and hospitality management. The study programs meet strict accreditation guidelines and, due to their international focus, are conducted in English. The university campus is located at Kahlenberg, in Vienna's 19th district. The research program at the Institute for Public Governance and Sustainable Development focuses on issues that deal with the main political challenges of the 21st century, such as the development and role of university institutions, changes in democratic processes and the sustainable use of resources.

Scientific Contact:

Dr Verena Radinger-Peer

MODUL University Vienna

Department of Public Governance and Sustainable Development

Am Kahlenberg 1

1190 Vienna, Austria

E:  email@autor.cap

W: [1]

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PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education

Mariannengasse 8

1090 Vienna, Austria

T: +43 / 1 / 505 70 44

E:  email@autor.cap




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Article published on 20.10.2015

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