The 2nd University Cities Forum – Leveraging University Vitality for Urban & Regional Development – will be hosted on November 30th – December 2nd 2017 in Tomsk by National Research Tomsk State University with the support of the Tomsk Oblast Administration.

The main objective of the Forum is to form a joint agenda to increase the university’s influence on the development of the new urban and regional economy, the concentration of high-tech companies in cities as well as the development of university campuses as centers of gravity for businesses. Also, the Forum aims at discussing the  university-industry-government partnerships to transform this new economy and respond to social challenges.


The Forum’s program includes three tracks. The first track “University and the new economy of the city/region” is devoted to determining the role of the university in the development of the new economy in a city or a region. Together with leading experts in the field of urban and S&T development, cluster policy, representatives of universities, authorities and companies, the participants of this Forum track will engage themselves in the discussion how the university can contribute to unfold the new urban economy. A special emphasis will be made on the analysis of the specific practices dealing with the university city transformation. The focus of the track is within the key agenda issues:

(1) How to bring together university, industry and government and build their cooperation for the urban economy transformation?

(2) How to transform university campus into a center of gravity for businesses and a new type of urban environment?

(3) How to design a consensus space for the development and implementation of joint initiatives?


While addressing economic, political, social and environmental challenges, the track “University in complex urban ecosystem” will assess urbanization and city development issues. According to forecasts, by 2025 the number of students in the world will exceed 260 million people. Every year, a growing number of students formulates new requirements to the urban environment and the quality of life, while simultaneously they become themselves the driving force for the development of more dynamic and intelligent urban ecosystems. Among the key questions of the track to be discussed are the following:

  1. What are the prerequisites for a university environment to conceive and nurture experimental solutions for urgent environmental and urban problems?
  2. Can the urbanization process be more thoughtful and responsible?
  3. What knowledge and skills will be needed to respond to global environmental challenges?


The third Forum track “University and disruptive social changes” will examine the role of universities as drivers of social changes. Here, the major focus of the discussion will be within the following framework issues:

  1. How can a university concentrate talents in a city?
  2. What are the priorities for academic mobility development?
  3. How to contribute to a labor market enhancement and to respond to social challenges?

Also, the delegates of the 2nd University Cities Forum will consider the role of the university in the development of social entrepreneurship, the key tasks of social development of the city and the region.


How to renovate university campuses to enable high-quality cutting-edge research and entrepreneurial activity? Jan Slovak, Director of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Masaryk University (Brno, the Czech Republic), will share his experience in developing a university campus and attracting private investments. Carl Zillich, Curatorial Director of IBA Heidelberg (German architectural and construction bureau IBA Heidelberg), will present a report about the renovation of the Heidelberg University campus.


One special format of the Forum work is reserved to presentation of the best world and Russian practices in the physical design of the learning environment for schools and universities of the 21st century. Harry Daniels, Professor of the Oxford Centre for Sociocultural and Activity Theory Research, will present his team’s results of the long-term research projects aimed at development of new solutions for the design of the learning environment in the schools of the future.


One more expert of the Forum is Dominique Foray, Full Professor, Chair in Economics and Innovation Management at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the author of the concept of smart specialization, which is based on the search for a combination of unique resources, territorial potential and technological capabilities that leads to the creation of new sectors in the economy.

Also, some more outstanding experts agreed to take part in the upcoming Forum’s event. Among them are Irina Dezhina, head of research group on science and industrial policy of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Anton Finogenov, Director General of Spatial planning Institute “Urbanica”, Anastasia Tyurina, head of the projects of the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia, and others.