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Handbook for Strategic City-University Co-operation

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.

The EUniverCities Handbook for Strategic City-University Co-operation offers insights, examples of best practice 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 case studies from European cities, the handbook provides concrete advice on the various stages of strategic city-university collaboration.

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

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 was co-developed by the members of the EUniverCities network and edited by Willem van Winden as lead expert of the network.

The handbook has three parts. Part one offers insights and guidance for setting up collaborations, maintaining them, and reaping their fruits.

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, originating from a series of online workshops.

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 one-size-fits-all ‘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.

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. 


About the handbook: Willem van Winden / +31 (0) 641427013 /

About EUniverCities: EUniverCities Secretariat /

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