Universities as Channels for Structural Fund Interventions Aiming to SME Growth – A Case Study from Finnish and Romanian Regions
Currently universities are acting as eminent channels for structural fund interventions in EU countries. This paper studies the experiences of regional universities in a long-standing EU country (Finland) and in a recently joining EU country (Romania). Results are based on expert interviews using the A’WOT-method. The results suggest that universities must have an appropriate understanding of the real development needs of SMEs and the region, including a good understanding about the ideas behind the regional development policies and structural fund programmes. This understanding cannot be established without strategic partnerships. By combining these two perspectives, universities should take a proactive role in the development of regional economies. This means a transformation from a follower into a co-explorer of future opportunities hand in hand with local enterprises.