Research, Innovation & Economic Growth

The role of HEIs in the regional innovation specialization

The research field seeks to understand the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the innovative capacities and innovation processes of firms with regard to the institutional profile (both in research and education) and geographical location. The role of public (national and EU) funds in facilitating innovation processes of SMEs is also an important aspect of the research.

Our approach

Our research focuses on the following questions:

  • May we assume that influence of universities on innovative SMEs are stronger if the research profile of the university overlaps with the sectors represented by innovative SMEs?
  • How does the educational and research profile of a university influence the way and size of its impact on the innovative activities of the firm? Is it plausible to assume that specialized universities may have stronger impact on innovation than higher educational institutions with a more general profile?
  • Academic research has important spill-over effects on the innovative activities of firms. However, it is not clear whether these effects are either fully absorbed at regional level (NUTS-2) or are present nationwide (NUTS-1) or do not spread over the boundaries of the counties (NUTS-3) at all?
  • How do EU funds directed either to universities or firms for innovation and/or research influence the cooperation between these actors and the (relative) efficiency of innovative and research activities?

For empirical evidence on Hungary, in the first part of our research we relied on the evaluation of programmes targeting higher education. The case studies pointed out that there is close and valuable co-operation between HEIs and businesses in many places, but they either focus on training or fulfil specific corporate demands (e.g. modelling, measurements, laboratory services, etc.) as an innovation service function.

The other part of our research focused on the quantitative relationship between universities’ and private firms’ R&D activities and their impact on the results of the research project. We found that research conducted by universities does influence the research efforts of private firms and their location decisions; the research profile of the universities does also play an important role in the size of this effect.

Leading Researchers

Klára MAJOR, Károly MIKE

Topics, related projects and publications

1. Impacts of Academic Research on GDP Growth

In our research project we built upon an econometric model which was used to estimate the potential impact of academic research on productivity and GDP. We applied this model and made a forecast on how public resources spent on universities and research institutes may influence the growth potential of the Hungarian economy.

The executive summary of the research report is available in English

2. Evaluation of Programmes Targeting Higher Education

In the programming period starting in 2007, institutions of higher education were awarded and contracted for at least 250 billion HUF worth of financial support until August 2012, out of which developments specifically targeting the development of higher education activities amounted to 142.5 billion HUF.

The main themes of the evaluation prepared by HETFA were the following:

  • Presentation of the context of the projects implemented from 2007 to 2012,
  • Evaluation of results by institutions and the achievements regarding the whole higher education system,
  • The sustainability of results,
  • Explanatory facts for lagging behind planned targets,
  • Presentation of best practices.

In the frame of the evaluation 10 case studies on higher education institutions and three on R&D&I were prepared. These are available in a separate volume additionally to the final report.

The research report (HÉTFA – REVITA (2013): Evaluation of Programmes Targeting Higher Education) and the related presentation are available in English

3. Policy Proposal for Establishing an Indicator System for Academic Research

The research report recommends methodology and detailed content of an indicator-system for the national science policy; it reviews the necessary steps to take in order to establish such a system, the institutional framework and its visualization on the web.