Making ideas work for society: University cooperation in knowledge transfer

Jo Ritzen


Sustainable economic growth is more brought about by ideas, knowledge and human capital than by physical capital, like machines, buildings or land. Universities are one of the sources of ideas and of human capital. We focus on the third function of universities, next to education and research, in particular on knowledge transfer. Knowledge transfer is highly visible in agglomerations like Silicon Valley. Many countries nowadays have strategies to step up knowledge transfer as a source of sustainable economic growth.

Knowledge is recognised to have its strongest potential impact close to the place where it is generated. This makes a university attractive to the region in which it is located. The university contributes to sustainable economic growth not only through the expenditures associated with the running of the university, but perhaps more by the knowledge transfer. This involves amongst others partnerships with business.

Knowledge transfer does not come by itself. It requires action and strategy on the part of the university, the region and local public or private actors (businesses and public organisations). It appears that US and UK top-universities are more prominent not only in realising cooperation with business, but also among each other.

JEL Classification: I21, I25, O31, O32, O33, O34

Keywords: Knowledge transfer, innovation, university-business cooperation, triple helix

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