43rd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Peripheries, Centres, and Spatial Development in the New Europe", 27th - 30th August 2003, Jyväskylä, Finland
In the recent past, expectations concerning universities have emphasised their active role as driving forces in industrial and regional development. Obviously, this challenge is especially demanding in the universities which have primarily focussed on traditional academic teaching and research activities, and which are located in regions suffering from structural problems. The paper investigates the experience of three Nordic universities, Aarhus in Denmark, Joensuu in Finland, and Tromsö in Norway, which are comparable in several respects. The triple helix framework is used as the theoretical point of reference. In particular, the investigation attempts to clarify the factors which condition the transformation of a university from the academic unit producing qualified labour force for the welfare state towards a policy actor in initiating new economic activities. Drawing from the comparison of the three cases, the conclusions focus on the realisation of a university's local and regional development potential.