2 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Phd Scholarships on the Role Of Universities in Innovation and Regional Development 2017, University of Twente

Publish Date: Nov 29, 2016

Deadline: Dec 04, 2016

These positions aim to give promising Early Stage Researchers an opportunity for professional development, ultimately leading to a doctoral degree. The PhD scholars will be appointed for three years, starting 1 February 2017.

The PhD positions are funded by the EU-financed Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) “The Role of Universities in Innovation and Regional Development”. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions ensure excellent and innovative research training as well as attractive career and knowledge-exchange opportunities through cross-border and cross-sector mobility of researchers, to better prepare them for current and future societal challenges. The Innovative Training Networks scheme aims to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers.

Alongside the individual research projects, the RUNIN network also provides a dedicated portfolio of courses aimed at promoting the research of the participating PhD candidates as well as developing their transferable skills for future careers in the academic or non-academic sector. Each PhD candidate will have a co-supervisor from an international institution in the network and a non-academic mentor from a regional partner organization, and will also spend two periods during the PhD process on secondment at one of the other partner organizations in another country.

For both positions, priority will be given to candidates who have a strong background in sociology, human geography, public administration, political science or related fields.

PhD position 1: New modes of university governance for dynamic regional stakeholder engagement (University of Twente)

This PhD project explores universities’ strategic priority setting processes in a context of strategic modernisation through a study of one such specialized aim (regional engagement) within this new strategic landscape dominated by ideas of ‘strategic modernization’ and increasing inter-institutional competition. Drawing on a comparative analytic case study of a set of regionally engaged universities focused on two universities that have made increasing regional engagement a specific strategic aim (Universities of Twente and Linköping), the Early Stage Researcher – PhD candidate – studies how universities determine, set and implement strategic priorities negotiating between these tensions for universal values (excellence, quality) and their other missions.  This Early Stage Researcher (ESR) contributes both to academic debates foregrounding the unexpected tensions inherent in regional engagement activities as well as university management debates concerning the practicalities of delivering regional engagement that is well connected to and supportive of universities’ other missions. This ESR contributes to debates around higher education modernisation, and more general public administration conversations on post-new public management and public value management theory. The ESR also creates impact for a wider set of higher education professionals in creating understanding about effectively integrating engagement missions into universities’ strategic steering perspectives. Planned secondment: Linköping University and the LiU innovation office.

PhD position 2: Knowledge systems for intelligent university regional engagement policy (Regio Twente)

This PhD project seeks to explore how policy interventions can generate understandings of the reality of university-industry engagement in regional contexts, and in turn, be linked to effective regional policy-making in these regions.  There has been growing policy interest in stimulating universities to engage more systematically with their regions, including specific regional funding streams in a number of countries.  But there has been a parallel concern that policy interventions are often based on a relatively ‘thin’ understanding of the ways that specific interventions (e.g. supporting spin-offs, innovation vouchers) feed into changes at the regional level.  There is a huge gulf between micro-data of project outcomes and linking it to meso-data of regional development, and hence understanding which university regional engagement projects and programs are most effective in policy terms.  This ESR therefore specifically seeks to trace, understand and conceptualize linkages between a range of policy interventions, and changes key regional economic development data and indicators. Using a comparative study of highly-engaged universities in the participating regions, the ESR contributes to academic debates concerning university management for public value in the context of the university as an overstretched, stakeholder organisation. The ESR creates impact in public policy networks developing appropriate policies, instruments and tools for stimulating university entrepreneurship and impact in a wider regional context. Planned secondment(s): Lincolnshire County Council, and the University of Lincoln.


The PhD candidate should ideally have:

  • a master’s degree in sociology, human geography, public administration, political science, or related fields. A research master is an advantage;
  • strong research skills in qualitative research methods; for PhD position 2, research skills in quantitative methods are also required;
  • affinity with multidisciplinary research;
  • knowledge in the field of regional economic development & innovation and/or higher education & regional engagement is an advantage;
  • experience in communicating with project partners, ministries, funding agencies, etc. is an advantage;
  • fluency in English for both positions. For position 2 is a notice of the Dutch language required.

Moreover, the PhD candidate should be able to work independently and as a member of a team and demonstrate creativity and innovativeness.

The University of Twente and Regio Twente are equal opportunities employers and the candidates will be recruited under gender-neutral recruitment processes. The project aims for gender balance among the researchers recruited to the network. Female candidates are in particular encouraged to apply.

As the program aims to promote cross-border mobility, a condition for eligibility for the scholarship is that the candidate has not resided, or been primarily employed or studying in the Netherlands for more than 12 months of the 3 years immediately preceding the recruitment date. The position is also open to non-European citizens. Furthermore, candidates must be in the first four years of their research careers and cannot hold a doctoral degree.

Application and information
To apply for this position, we invite you to send us a letter of application setting out how you meet the requirements of the profile, your academic curriculum vitae, a list of your publications and conference presentations (where applicable), as well as an essay in English of no longer than 2 pages, potentially including:

  • an academic reflection on the overall RUNIN ITN;
  • an academic reflection on either of the two PhD projects (above);
  • a summary of a short paper you have written recently (last two years).

The application deadline is 4 December 2016. Selected candidates will be invited for interviews in the period 7–16 December. Job offers will be made by the end of December 2016.


Both PhD candidates will be appointed for a full-time position for a period of 36 months. The starting date for the PhD candidate is 1st  of February 2017 and the gross monthly salary increases from € 2.191,- in the first year to € 2.672,- in the final year. In addition, the University of Twente and Regio Twente offer additional attractive employment benefits. Appointment to the position is subject to the PhD being admitted to the Twente Graduate School. 

The PhD candidate for position 1 will be appointed at the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, a department at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) of the University of Twente, which offers an inspiring, multidisciplinary environment. The PhD candidate for position 2 will be appointed as a junior researcher at Kennispunt within Regio Twente (see below). Besides collaborating closely with the colleagues in CHEPS and Kennispunt of the Regio Twente, both PhD candidates will be appointed to the Twente Graduate School and – potentially – become a member of the Netherlands Institute of Government, which both offer postgraduate training opportunities in addition to the program offered by the RUNIN Network.


The University of Twente. We stand for science and technology, high tech, human touch, education, and research that matter. New technology drives change, innovation, and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programs. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research. The Faculty of Behavioural, Management, and Social Sciences strives to hold a leading position in their fields in relation to the science and technology research programs of the University of Twente. In all these fields, the faculty provides bachelor, master, and professional development programs.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering, and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through 'social engineering' these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behavior, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this, the faculty of BMS upholds high-quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science, and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our Institutes on Governance (IGS), ICT (CTIT), Health (MIRA), and Nanotechnology (MESA+).

Center for Higher Education Policy Studies The Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), which is an interdisciplinary research institute with a strong international reputation. Its research, education, and consultancy activities focus on higher education and research policy at the institutional, national, and international levels. More information on CHEPS can be found at http://www.utwente.nl/mb/cheps/.

Regio Twente Regio Twente is a statutorily-based governmental collaborative body covering the fourteen municipalities in Twente, a region in the East of the Netherlands, with a total population of 628,000. Regio Twente has two main areas of competence: public health and territorial development. Regio Twente organizes a range of programs and projects across a range of areas under these two main domains, including socioeconomic development. Connect to collaborate is what Regio Twente aspires for and with the 14 municipalities and social partners, for a vital, innovative, and powerful Twente (see www.regiotwente.nl).

Kennispunt Twente Kennispunt Twente is hosted by Regio Twente. It is an independent research organization, inter-municipal and cooperative, covering the urban municipalities in Twente. Kennispunt Twente www.kennispunttwente.nl services all municipalities in the region of Twente. It seeks to strengthen the knowledge position of the Twente municipalities and the Regio by undertaking applied research that generates high value-added management information and knowledge for current policy formulation and decision-making. Kennispunt is working closely with key regional knowledge institutes (University of Twente and university of applied sciences Saxion) to pursue these goals. The research covers all areas of significance for the municipalities and the region. Kennispunt Twente provides an infrastructure in which municipal and regional problems are formulated into concrete applied research tasks, which are then implemented and translated back into policy knowledge.
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