Project Details

Title: University Collaboration in Regional Development Spaces
Priority: 1: Innovation and the knowledge economy
Theme: Employment, human capital and education

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Jan 2010 - 31st Dec 2012
Website: http://www.unicreds.eu


Total budget: €2,173,658.00
ERDF contribution: €1,710,860.89

Lead partner

Cornwall Council
New County Hall, Treyew Road
TR1 3AY, Truro

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Mr Nathan Cudmore
      Phone: +44 (0)1872 322608
      Fax: +44 (0)1872 323808

Project summary

UNICREDS brings together deprived peripheral regions that view the development of decentralised, multi-university campuses in their territories as the key to their full participation in regional development through the knowledge economy. These 'collaborative universities' are seen as transformational developments; fundamentally enhancing territorial capital and potential well beyond their core educational functions. Developed in collaboration with regional authorities and the private sector, they are seen to provide a flexible template for regional development closely linked to local needs and opportunities – and an alternative to the classical “education factory system” - providing instead regional clusters of high quality competitive and innovative activities. These collaborations work together to drive forward a common agenda of increasing growth and jobs and have come to be known as the ‘triple helix’ development model.

There are now a number of regions where higher education institutions have combined to develop these new multi-study environments remote from the traditional, centralised universities.These new clusters have been developed to enable peripheral and/or excluded communities to access university education and research & innovation activities locally for the first time.They also use the combined strength of a number of universities to better serve the needs and catalyse a diverse range of enterprises. As large-scale developments in their own right, they attract high numbers of students and staff into peripheral areas and have significant direct economic, demographic and environmental impacts.


The core objective of the network is to further develop and demonstrate how the triple helix model can assist the transformation of failing peripheral regions into centres of excellence in research and innovation and to propose this approach as a model for future EU regional development programmes.

Through work package meetings, conferences and dissemination events, each focussing on sequential stages of the triple helix regional development model developed so far by this partnership; the project will capitalise on the existing work undertaken by the more experienced partners, and refine and adjust the model according to all partners' input and further testing, mostly in the new member states. The result will be a transferrable model for regional development in peripheral or failing economies. All partners will be responsible for integrating the new model into local, regional and national policy structures and a special 'regional policy influence group' will offer the model to the EU as a sustainable regional development alternative.


New member states have shown great interest in the model. Many are currently in the process of developing university/private and public sector collaborations of their own, and want to participate in the further work of the partnership.

Project achievements

The aim of UNICREDS is to transform regions with underperforming economies into centres of research and innovation, through the creation of a new model for economic development. UNICREDS is studying two key elements: 1) the interaction between universities, government organisations and the private sector as a good governance model which allows growth and employment; 2) the ways that a decentralised higher and further education system gathered in a partnership strengthens the effect of the previous element. Partners from seven regions across Europe meet regularly to share experience, identify good practices and to develop a new, transferable toolkit for economic development through the creation of a regional knowledge economy.

Five themes are being considered: 1. Geographic and social characteristics of the region; 2. Developing partnerships; 3. Embedding economic and community benefits; 4. Nurturing an innovative business culture; 5. Achieving excellence through building research sustainability; through seminars, surveys and other research, each led by a different partner. The results are shared and discussed further during conferences with input from key policy makers and influencers, and the results published. The project launched in Cornwall in April 2010, giving partners the opportunity to better understand the problems faced by each region and to start work on the first theme: design of a decentralized higher education model to meet specific physical and social characteristics of underperforming regional economies in peripheral areas.

The final report from the UNICREDS project Entitled 'University Partnerships for Prosperity: How Higher Education Can Help Build Regional Knowledge Based Economies in Europe', summarises the results from each of the key topics considered by UNICREDS partners, from establishing the partnerships necessary to get things started, the nurture of an innovative business culture and ensuring that economic benefits are embedded in the community, through to the development of sustainable R&D activities that support regional needs. The report is the culmination of three years of work by the fifteen partner regions with the project.

The report highlights a number of illustrative case studies from the partner regions, showing how the good ideas actually work in practice. From the project's findings, the partners have been able to make recommendations for future policy that will help regions to develop strategies for triple helix (university-government-industry) collaboration that will strengthen and sustain regional knowledge economies. Download this report on UNICREDS website (www.unicreds.eu). Please watch the video realise about the good practice transfer between Skelleftea University and Sofia University about the Multi-institutional Campus project in Pleven (Bulgaria), visit our website to see the video, also features other videos, notable one highlighting best practice HI Links from UHI, this good practice have been presented at the Committee of Regions and Open days in 2012.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Cornwall Council, Truro UNITED KINGDOM Cornwall and Isles of Scilly +44 (0)1872 322608
nwallet@cornwall.gov.uk, ncudmore@cornwall.gov.uk
University College Falmouth, Falmouth UNITED KINGDOM Cornwall and Isles of Scilly +44 (0)1209 721073
Council of Skellefteå - Campus Development Unit, Skellefteå SWEDEN Övre Norrland +46 910 585413
Regional Council of Vasterbotten, Umeå SWEDEN Övre Norrland +46(0)90 165730 or 713
barbro.lundmark@regionvasterbotten.se; anders.almberg@regionvasterbotten.se
Akademi Norr Association of Municipalities, Storumans kommun SWEDEN Övre Norrland + 46 960 15724
City of Seinajoki, Seinäjoki FINLAND Länsi-Suomi +358 6 416 2111
University Consortium of Seinäjoki / University of Tampere, Seinäjoki FINLAND Länsi-Suomi +358 6 4211470
Frami Ltd, Seinäjoki FINLAND Länsi-Suomi +358 20 124 4003
University of South Bohemia, České Budejovice CZECH REPUBLIC Jihozapad +420 387 772 506
South Bohemian regional authority, České Budejovice CZECH REPUBLIC Jihozapad 420386720190
Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, Sofia BULGARIA Yugozapaden +35929405507 or 450
Sophia University 'St.Kliment Ohridski', Blagoevgrad BULGARIA Yugozapaden +359 (2) 9308261
University of Debrecen Centre for Environmental Management and Policy, Debrecen HUNGARY Eszak-Alfold +36 52 512 921
Hajdú-Bihar County Council, Debrecen HUNGARY Eszak-Alfold +36 52 507 509
UHI Millennium Institute, Inverness UNITED KINGDOM Highlands and Islands +44 1463 279302
Institution Maintenance Centre of Hajdú-Bihar County, Debrecen HUNGARY Eszak-Alfold 3652507528


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