Impact of Higher Education Institutions on Regional Economies: A Joint Research Initiative



Impact of Research and Innovation Networks on Regional Competitiveness: The Role of HEIs

March 2007 - February 2009

Link to this project's ESRC Award Page

Project Team

  • Principal Investigator: Professor Jeremy Howells, The University of Manchester, Manchester Business School
  • Co-Investigator: Dr F Lettice, University of East Anglia
  • Co-Investigator: Professor Rebecca Boden, University Of Wales Institute, Cardiff Business School


The aim of the research is to develop a deeper empirically based understanding of the impacts of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on the innovativeness and competitiveness of regional economies. The research is gathering new data and metrics on regional university-industry links as it relates to research and innovation across three regions: Wales, the North Westand the East of England (selected on the basis of their diversity in relation to sectoral specialisation, differences in their industrial histories, and heterogeneity in governance structures). Two parallel research strategies Have been developed to target different units of analysis to achieve a richer picture of the relationship between universities and the regional economy. An 'outside-in' approach takes the regional economy as the unit of analysis and assesses the extent to which industry views and utilises HEIs as key partners for the supply of ideas and talented people in successfully fostering innovation. In parallel, an 'inside-out' perspective is developed that takes HEIs as the unit of analysis and explores how HEIs and businesses interact within the surrounding industrial environment to uncover the character of regional innovation network relationships, the dynamics of their emergence, the effectiveness of the mediating role of regional institutions and the barriers to regional innovation performance.

The research started in March 2007 and runs for two years. It is led by the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR) based at Manchester Business School with partners at Norwich Business School and University of Wales Institute Cardiff.


Selected Project Outputs

Please see the project's ESRC page for the most up to date information and outputs