10 - Regional frameworks

10.5. Encouraging specialisation in Universities


Half the economic growth of a country like the United States since the Second World War has been linked to technological advances which have originated from basic research carried out in universities. Indeed, universities appear to play a key role in fulfilling the objectives of nations which aspire to become leaders in innovation and R&D transfer. Today, Europe is immersed in the so-called Bologna Process, by which universities, including those in Andalusia, have embarked on an adventure to create a single Europe-wide campus. In parallel with this process of globalisation and within the framework of another EU-funded project, Andalusian universities are focusing efforts on highlighting their distinctive characteristics whilst exploring new ways of expanding their potential by specialising in specific areas of knowledge.


Pôles de Recherche et Enseignement Supérieur – PRES (France)

Created in 2009, the PRES (Pôles Enseignement Supérieur et de Recherche) are groups of higher education institutions and research bodies, which aim at valorising research results and helping French Universities to improve their position in the international higher education rankings (e.g. the Shanghai ranking). The PRES permit the coordination of all the French agents who are involved in the field of research and higher education. In the case of the Nord-Pas de Calais for example, the cluster has 20 participants from the academic world, including 7 universities (6 of which are state-funded and the other private), as well as schools of engineering, architecture, and commerce. Public institutions, the Regional Government, the city of Lille, and various research institutes are also involved. In this way, the initiative has brought together all the scientific agents in the region, making the different activities they carry out more visible, and optimising the resources used to increase the overall impact.

Thanks to the PRES, coordination between the universities in different regions of France has improved and this has permitted the increase of specialisation of the institutions, thereby improving their performance and enhancing their level of knowledge transfer to the productive sector.

Dominique Droma, who is responsible for Entrepreneurship at the Nord-Pas de Calais PRES, underlines the fact that they are studying the possibility of "setting up a single transfer office to cover all the various agents involved in higher education".

According to Frédéric Leburge, who is responsible for R&D&i in the Regional Council of Nord-Pas de Calais, "the PRES has coordinated all the universities, Grands Écoles (public universities with an elitist selection process which enhances the quality of learning), laboratories, etc. so as to ensure the effective valorisation of knowledge."

 Veneto (Italy)

In Veneto, for Example, a strategy for the specialisation of universities has been designed so as to ensure that the four existing institutions offer tuition in different disciplines and coordinate themselves in order to identify potential synergies and complementary qualities. This initiative has contributed to raising awareness and visibility of the research work being carried out, which in turn helps companies to identify the centre which best suits the requirements of the sector in which they operate.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

This recommendation should be implemented at a high level and be presented to the Regional Administration and the Universities. Companies could put forward their proposals and ideas and exert some pressure with a view to establishing a more competitive R&D&i system.

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  1. Mr. Berti. Research and Technology Transfer Office, University of Padua.
  2. Interview  with Mr. Droma, de PRES (Pôles de recherche et enseignement supérieur).
  3. Interview  with Mr. Leburge, Conseil Régional Nord-Pas de Calais.
  4. http://www.consiglioveneto.it/crvportal/pageContainer.jsp?n=92&p=97&c=7&e=127&t=0 - Consiglio Regionale del Véneto.
  5. http://www.enseignementsup-recherche.gouv.fr/pid20637/l-operation-campus.html - Ministry of Higher Education and Research..