Conference reflections by Gerwin Evers, Aalborg University
A recurring topic during GEOINNO2020 was the role that universities can play in regional industrial development through their graduates. Meric Gertler’s Keynote highlighted the importance of the University of Toronto in developing AI expertise in the Toronto region, both through research pursued but also graduates trained. An intense discussion followed the Keynote regarding whether this graduate knowledge effect similarly applies in economically peripheral regions. Colleagues from these regions noted their universities’ struggles in retaining students, especially from newly established degree programs.
These discussions continued in several of the parallel sessions. In my own session I presented empirical evidence on the extent to which universities align their teaching mission to their region´s industrial profile, and its effect on graduate retention. The theme continued in presentations distinguishing in these dynamics between the “regular” labour market retention and entrepreneurial retention. This theme in turn linked very closely to Shiri M. Breznitz´ Keynote on graduate entrepreneurship indicating the extent to which discussions on this topic are here to stay!