The paper examines the role of Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs) in bridging the gap between the university research base and industry in order to foster economic development in a lagging industrial region. The context is provided by an academic literature on the role of universities in regional innovation systems, some of which casts doubt on the capacity of universities to operate in this domain, particularly within a lagging region. The empirical case reports on a bold experiment initiated by the Regional Development Agency in the older industrial region of the North-East of England to create and support new TICs in the fields of process innovation in high-value manufacturing and new and renewable energy, and on the engagement of a regionally committed university with these centres. The evidence presented suggests that while there are links between the university and the centres, both are principally operating in a national science and technology system in which contributing to addressing uneven regional economic development is a secondary concern.

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