Russia: Universities as Actors of Inclusive Development
During the last twenty years national innovation policies has been challenged by socioeconomic processes becoming more sophisticated in both developed and developing economies. It has become obvious that initial orientations of innovation policies towards economic growth objectives are no longer sufficient without a broader vision of its social dimension. These processes have entailed new theoretical studies and policy research combining innovation and social policy approaches as well as reconsidering the roles of particular actors of the national innovation systems (NIS). Subsequently, an issue of inclusive innovation has emerged as a way to understand how knowledge creation, dissemination and absorption can contribute to meeting the needs of specific vulnerable social groups, offering them an access to better-quality innovative goods and services, education and skills. Universities, being hubs for knowledge creation and transfer, cultural and social progress, have every reason to be regarded as a powerful lever for social inclusion.
Our study is focused on two functions of universities aimed at social inclusion and development in the context of NIS: (1) an actor of public innovation policies and (2) a source of local bottom-up initiatives. We will explore and systematize these inclusive functions of universities through the lens of the Russian NIS context, examine their actual and potential impact on the social inclusion processes as well as capabilities to meet the future challenges of innovative social development.