Entrepreneurial universities in less innovative regions: problems and solutions
Perception of higher educational institutions (HEIs) as engines for regional growth has preoccupied the minds of scholars and policymakers for a considerable timespan already, while the “Triple helix” model has marked the departure from an “ivory tower” university to a proactive entrepreneurial entity. Taking cue from the international trend umpteen political initiatives in Russia have emphasized government support aimed at augmenting “innovativeness” of universities and local industry. Moreover, imposed publication and R&D intensity requirements, higher salaries demanded by academic staff as well as student mobility have deemed purely teaching functions increasingly unsustainable. This poses a challenge for HEIs, especially in less innovative regions where the divergence between Academia and industry is quite pronounced and opportunities for technology transfer are limited due to relatively weak entrepreneurial milieux.
This research attempts to determine to what extent regional socio-economic conditions and absorptive capacity of local budiness modify innovation potential of mid-range HEIs and how the latter can contribute to regional and local innovation systems in less innovative Russian regions. The rest of this paper is structured as follows. The first section offers a regionalized perspective on HEIs’ entrepreneurial activities and links HEIs’ research performance to the overall level of innovative activity within the home region. In the following section methodology and data employed in the research are presented. The next section presents quantitative data analysis of Russian HEIs and discusses major findings. The penultimate part highlights the implications of the study and suggests solutions for mid-range HEIs, and the last part concludes.