Universities of Applied Sciences’ Leadership Role in Regional Innovation Ecosystems


  • Erkan Yalcin HAN University of Applied Sciences




educational organizations, universities of applied sciences, UAS, regional innovation ecosystem, leadership


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains 17 Goals. Goal 9 concerns building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. Hence, the development of innovation ecosystems in the European community plays an important role. This development is carried out at all levels of governance with an emphasis on the regional governance. The innovation ecosystem approach considers innovation a process that emerges from interaction among different types of companies and other organizations. One of the common success factors and actors in the innovation ecosystem consists of educational organizations that provide access to knowledge and creating knowledge infrastructure. However, the role of universities of applied sciences is not clear in empowering regional innovation ecosystems. In this conceptual paper, the role of universities of applied sciences in regional innovation ecosystems, is discussed. The research has been carried out by conducting an integrative literature review to identify themes, debates and gaps about the role of educational organizations using the Regional Innovation System model (RIS-model) and the system elements for diagnosing ecosystems. The outline of the paper shows that there is a great potential for universities of applied sciences in taking a leadership role in the regional innovation ecosystem due to their neutrality, practical-oriented accumulated knowledge, and expertise in relation to different stakeholder groups. This paper provides an overview of the key findings regarding the potential leadership role of universities of applied sciences in the regional innovation ecosystem for the management board of universities of applied sciences and regional policy makers. Thus, contributes to the formulation of regional innovation policies by including universities of applied sciences more clearly as active partners.