Nesta Doctoral Researcher wins prestigious prize at International Innovation Workshop

Posted on 2 July 2013

Rhiannon Pugh, one of the research team working on the Nesta sponsored project Innovation in weaker regions – creating an effective regional innovation system through the Triple Helix model has recently won a best paper award at one of the leading PhD summer schools in her field.

Rhiannon recently attended the Globelics Academy PhD-School in Tampere, Finland, which was held to support the training of PhD students from around the world who are writing theses on issues related with innovation and economic development. Against considerable international competition, Rhiannon’s paper Developing a theoretical framework for the analysis of innovation policy in a weaker region was judged to one of the two best papers at the workshop by some of the leading academics in her field.

In 2009, Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, Director of Enterprise and Innovation Education at the University of Wales was awarded a grant of £210,000 from Nesta, the UK's ‘innovation agency’ to undertake a three year study to examine the impact of the so-called triple helix model in Wales, where Universities, industry and government work together to develop new economic systems. 

The overall aim of the Nesta funded project is to enhance the understanding of innovation and economic growth in weaker regions, and specifically the role government, business and academia plays within the innovation system. Three doctoral researchers, including Rhiannon, were appointed to undertake the research over a three year period.

According to Professor Jones-Evans, the results from the project have enormous potential for the development of new types of economic policy: 

"This research will develop an understanding of the processes which can encourage the development of innovation policy within weaker regions and the components that constitute effective systems, networks and clusters to encourage innovation. Through a detailed analysis of the role of government, business and academia, we are beginning to develop an understanding of the dynamics of weaker regions from both a theoretical and a policy perspective and how these three key players in the triple helix model can work together to create a more dynamic economy. It is a massive boost for the project that Rhiannon’s work has been recognised by leading researchers in the field of innovation and regional development and we hope that various publications will flow form this work, as well as that of the other two researchers over the next few years”

Rhiannon’s study brings together theories of innovation into a framework that allows them to be applied to a weaker region within an economically developed nation, with a focus on the role of government as a driver of growth. Through a case study approach employing document and policy analysis and stakeholder interviews, she has developed a greater understanding of innovation policy making in Wales, especially the decision making and implementation processes. She has also examined, in detail, the role of different actors within the innovation system and how these actors view government as a driver of growth.  Her findings from this analysis of the Welsh innovation system will help greater understanding on the applicability of theories of innovation within smaller, peripheral economies.

Rhiannon will now go on to present her paper at the 11th Globelics Conference which will take place in Ankara, Turkey in September 2013.

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