A handbook on strategic city-university partnerships at European scale

On 2 December 2021, in the Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy, the EUniverCities network proudly presented its handbook for strategic city-university co-operation at the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the network. The content of this document is the outcome of a series of three online workshops which remotely gathered the members at a European-wide scale, during the winter and spring of 2021 as the pandemic made it impossible to travel. In addition to that, all members of the network contributed with short, concise cases about their own practices.

Worldwide, there is a growing recognition that strategic partnering between cities and universities can bring substantial benefits for both sides. The big question is how to organize such partnerships successfully.

This new handbook offers insights, best practices and advice for leaders in cities and universities that want to go beyond “ad hoc” projects and take the next step towards a strategic and sustainable partnership. The handbook identifies promising avenues, but also barriers and pitfalls and how to avoid them. Illustrated by a rich variety of examples from European cities, the handbook provides concrete advice on the various stages of strategic city-university collaboration. The handbook was co-developed by the members of the EUniverCities network and edited by Willem van Winden as lead expert of the network.

This handbook intends to provide inspiring practices and guidance to develop strategic interaction between city and university, considering the complex and layered nature of both. Our focus lies on the more strategic, transformational types of collaborations, that are more complex.

This handbook is the result of work started in 2019 at the initiative of Lausanne (City and University) and co - ordinated by the Parma Secretariat (City and University), with the aim of describing the state of the art of collaboration models currently in use

The handbook has three parts. Part one offers insights and guidance for setting up collaborations, maintaining them, and reaping their fruits; Part two contains detailed case studies that we analysed in-depth during three online workshops, originating from Ghent, Lausanne, Trondheim and Turku. Part three contains a rich collection of case studies that were written by the members of the EUniverCities network.

Part one is organized as follows: Chapter 2 identifies drivers and barriers that encourage, promote or hinder collaboration, seen from the perspective of both the university and the city.

Chapter 3 presents a typology of university-city collaboration models that can be found in Europe, ranging from very strategic frameworks to models for more specific purposes.

The chapters 4, 5 and 6 provide practical guidance for starting up the collaboration (chapter 4), consolidating it (chapter 5) and valorising the results (chapter 6).

Part two contains extensive case studies from Ghent, Lausanne, Trondheim and Turku.

Part three contains a rich collection of shorter case studies of city-university collaboration; each case ends with key takeaways lessons learned. Evidently, each city and country is different in terms of history, culture and policy context, with deep implications for the way cities and university can best frame their partnership. Probably, there are no single “winning” strategies. Hence, this handbook must be read as a source of inspiration for local initiators of strategic collaboration rather than as a source of ready-made solutions.

Download pdf file: Handbook for Strategic City-University co-operation


About the handbook: Willem van Winden / w.van.winden@urbaniq.nl

About EUniverCities: Gabriele Agnetti / eunivercities@comune.parma.it


Secretariat EUniverCities
University of Exeter - E-mail:eunivercities@exeter.ac.uk - To keep in touch with us, please subscribe to our Newsletter

This website uses cookies
We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services.
Allow all Allow Selection Deny
Cookie Settings
Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.
Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.