responding to the needs of

cities and regions

Raffaele Trapasso, Head of the Unit for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD


This article was first published in 2022 in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network eZINE Volume 5 no 1


Raffaele Trapasso is a Senior Economist at the OECD, coordinating the OECD work on entrepreneurial and innovative Higher Education Institutions. He is the Head of the Unit for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities. 


In this article, Raffaele introduces two important initiatives: - the Entrepreneurship Education Collaboration and Engagement (EECOLE) Network and the Geography of Higher Education (GoHE).


Image credit: Pixabay


The OECD has recently established the Entrepreneurship Education Collaboration and Engagement (EECOLE) Network. 


The aim of EECOLE is to connect all relevant stakeholders looking to boost entrepreneurialism and innovation. The EECOLE Network will inform directly the OECD Committee on SMEs and Entrepreneurship. 


Priority areas for EECOLE to develop policy discussions include:  


  • Incentives for academics and for Higher Education Institutions to be responsive to their place and region


  • Entrepreneurship education and the development an entrepreneurial mindset in individuals 


  • Examination of how Higher Education Institutions can help their own communities to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals


The Geography of Higher Education (GoHE) is one of the strands of work of EECOLE. GoHE focuses on the impact of national Higher Education policies in empowering communities and individuals by responding to the needs of regions and cities.


The GoHE Task-and-finish group (TFG) will  meet regularly during the next three years to assess progress done in assessing regional and national cases, to take stock of the findings, and to identify emerging research questions and policy issues. 


The first TFG meeting was organised in February 2022 as a public event and held online. It was attended by over 100 representatives from academia, the public sector and business. 


Further meetings will be invitation-based only, to reduce the number of attendees and thus allow more participation in the debate. Milestone events will be open to the public and updates will be made available on the GoHE webpage.


The objective is to generate a handbook in 2024 that will be based on the findings of the GoHE reviews and on academic work connected to EECOLE. 


The Geography of Higher Education (GoHE) aims to improve understanding of how Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are generating value for their surrounding communities and networks. In particular, GoHE focuses on the impact of national Higher Education policies in empowering communities and individuals by responding to the needs of regions and cities.



Click on image to visit the GoHE web page


The work of GoHE is informed by a range of theories, including the concept of the “triple” or “quadruple helix” model which evokes collaboration between universities firms, government and civil society as a successful recipe for innovation. 


Another important idea is that HEIs can support innovation in their own ecosystems by teaching new skills to students and by bending research efforts towards areas and issues that reflect innovation needs and opportunities of their own regions. 


However, there are challenges. So far, policies have rewarded HEIs for their capacity to compete (internationally) rather than for their propensity to collaborate (locally). For example, about 60% of HEIs’ score on the World University Rankings is calculated using metrics based solely on research activities. There is a need for a paradigm shift: from competition to collaboration. Creating the right incentives for place-responsiveness will be a shared challenge.


There will be no one-size-fit-all solution. HEIs need to adopt a strategy that reflects the opportunities and needs of their own geography. ◼️