Higher Education for S3 in North East Romania

The  Romanian  higher  education  and  research  system  is  characterised  by  a  strong centralisation  at the  national  level;  while  the  country  is  formally  divided  into eight ‘development regions’, their administrative powers are very limited. Universities are the main institutions tasked with delivering higher education, and indeed, they are largely anchored to the role of teaching and training. Nevertheless, in the past few decades, they have undergone significant  reform.

The Romanian research  and  innovation system  is  heavily  underfinanced. The  centralisation of  research  and  innovation  policy  generates  particularly  complex patterns in the case of smart specialization, where the regional dimension has no political representation. Indeed, in Romania, the regional tier is purely administrative, consisting of  eight  development  regions  (at  the  NUTS2  level)  and  four  macro-regions  (at  NUTS1 level)  mainly  responsible  for  co-ordinating  development  projects. The Regional Development Agencies are the main territorial actors in terms of regional development, however are not under the responsibility of Ministry of Research and Innovation, but the Ministry of Regional Development, which has so far been marginal to the S3 process.  This  fragmentation  of  the  governance of  the innovation system makes the implementation of Smart Specialisation particularly challenging.

Main conclusions and recommendations

  • HEIs  in  North  East  Romania  have  proved  proactive  and  interested  in  engaging more in S3 and regional development.
  • At  the  EU  level  results  show that  in  peripheral  regions,  HEIs  need  significant support in building capacities to deploy their potential for regional development. 
  • Participation  in  international  project  consortia  is  critical  in  this  respect  and adequate instruments should be provided.
  • There  is  significant potential for  universities in North  East  Romania  to  supply  the  human  capital  needed  to  increase  innovation  and implement  the  region's  S3.  It  is  particularly important   to   explore   the   opportunities   offered   by   the   Human   Capital   OP,   the Administrative Capacity OP  and the Regional OP and understand whether this source  of funding  can  support  HEIs  in  their  S3  implementation  efforts.  At  the  same  time,  it  is critical for HEIs to keep building capacity to take part into relevant EU initiatives.
  • While  building  basic  research  is  not  a  priority  for  most  S3  in  Europe,  a certain  level  of  upgrading  is  essential  to  allow  universities  to  participate  more  in international  networks,  and  to  build  the  capacities  for  knowledge  absorption.  This  upgrading  should  still  have  a  spatial  element,  perhaps  by  centring  research  efforts around local challenges and fostering collaboration among regional research actors.
  • The very limited development of Technology Transfer in the region places local HEIs in a difficult position. HEIs  are  willing  to  cooperate  with  the RDA and other stakeholders to strengthen their abilities, and maximise the impact of the new  opportunities  offered  by  the  current  policy  framework.  

Related documents