The Research Unit
- Urban and Regional Innovation Research Unit
- Director: Prof. Dr Nicos Komninos
- Faculty of Engineering
- Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The URBAN AND REGIONAL INNOVATION Research Unit (URENIO) is a university laboratory for the promotion of research and supply of scientific and technological services. URENIO is part of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the Faculty of Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (see URENIO Research).
The initial research focus of URENIO concerned the technological development of cities and regions and their ability to create environments supporting R&D, human skills, and innovation. Interest in the contribution of technological innovation to urban and regional development peaked after 1980 by economic geography research on industrial districts of central Italy, new industrial spaces in the west coast of the USA, and the planning of large technopoles in Japan. These new forms of agglomeration brought on the surface a series of phenomena with major impact on urban and regional development, such as the geographical concentration of innovative activities, the role of R&D and innovation in competitiveness and growth, the drivers of innovative agglomerations, the new divides and uneveness in terms of knowledge and innovation. Since then, technology and innovation have been a standard point of reference in the development and planning of cities and regions.
The current research emphasis, however, is on intelligent cities and regions. Intelligent cities are 3-layer systems of innovation, combining (1) innovative clusters, (2) innovation and technology learning institutions, and (3) digital innovation environments. Intelligent cities constitute a discrete category of intelligent environments created by the agglomeration of creativities, smaller systems of innovation that operate within cities (technology districts, technology parks, innovation poles, innovative clusters), and digital networks and online services. Their added value is in the ability to bring together three forms of intelligence (human intelligence of the city’s population; collective intelligence of institutions supporting learning and innovation; artificial intelligence of digital networks and online services) and assure higher innovation performance.
URENIO is mainly involved in competitive projects from the European R&D Framework Programmes (FP) and the Innovative Actions of the European Regional Development Fund. The Unit took part in numerous projects funded by national and international research institutions and the European Commission. URENIO is mainly known for its research record in the field of ‘regional innovation’. Research carried out in the Lab is acknowledged by leading organizations in this field. It is among the few academic organizations promoting research in the field of intelligent cities, having introduced the concept of intelligent cities as physico-virtual territorial systems of innovation and most advanced innovative agglomerations.
Universities & Research Institutes
Catholic University of Louvain, Democritus University, Foundation for Research and Technology, Panteion University, Research and Technology Institute of Maastricht, Technical University of Crete, Technical University of Milan, University of Montpellier, University of Social Sciences of Toulouse, University of Thessaly, University of Wales (Cardiff).
Andalusia Technology Park, Archimides (Estonia), Centro Svilupo (Aosta), Fundacion Labein Fundecyt (Extremadura), Josef Stefan Institute (Slovenia), Infyde (Bilbao), Institut Jules Destree (Wallonia), Kent Technology Transfer Centre, LEIA Technology Centre, Alava
Pronovum (Hungary), Science and Technology Park (Crete), Steinbeis Foundation (Stuttgart),
Tagus Technology Park, Talos (Cyprus), Tech Tirol (Lower Austria), Technology Park Oulu
TEKES (Finland), Technology Park (Thessaloniki), Zenit (Mulheim).
Basque Country, Central Macedonia, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, Ionian Islands, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Lorraine, Mantova, Peloponnesus, Southern Aegean, SW Oltenia, Thessaly, Wales, Western Macedonia.
URENIO co-ordinates the European innovation network VERITE. The acronym stands for Virtual Environment for Regional Innovation Technologies, and the activities of the network are supported by the 5th Framework Programme of the European Commission (DG Enterprise).
VERITE is a discussion and dissemination forum. It is organised along the concept of ‘smart communities’, which are communities of people/organisations sharing common interests, while a virtual environment supports the community’s activities, facilitating communication and interaction among members. The network is composed of academic and technology organisations from 18 European regions; it is open to new members and looks forward to enlarge the participation to discussions and sharing of practices on innovation, knowledge-creating companies, innovative regions, and innovation management techniques and technologies.