Institutions of higher education play a key role in providing 21st century societies with workers who have the skills and knowledge to succeed in an increasingly globalized, interdependent world. In response to these trends, partnerships between universities, industries, and communities are addressing current and still unforeseen problems.
In recent years, growing worldwide demand for energy, food, and resources has led to a rapid rise in commodity prices. Globalization forces changes in economic systems. At the same time, climate change, biodiversity loss, and desertification have emerged as major challenges to current economic approaches. These global problems affect local communities across the world. Breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology will be necessary to meet these challenges; so too will the development of policies and programs that can take innovations from the hallways of universities into society, industry, and government.
Historically, universities have played an important role in serving as knowledge centers that attract private and non-profit sector enterprises interested in building research and innovation capacity. Colleges and universities have also long been regarded as economic engines of their communities and regions. In the coming years, there will be need for more public-private cooperation and the development of yet stronger linkages between universities, communities and civil society groups.
The current NCS topic “The University as Innovation Driver and Knowledge Center” has attracted scholars and professionals with the expertise and interest in equipping universities for meaningful roles in innovation, entrepreneurship and economic capacity building. The latest NCS topic engages scholars involved in higher education initiatives that advance these specific roles.
Through collaborative research activities based at universities around the world, NCS provides much-needed analysis of barriers to and opportunities for university-based efforts. The ongoing analysis, begun in April 2009, promises to guide policymakers and practitioners for years to come.