From City of Steel to Global Innovation Hub

Monday, 26 March 2018


The insights, deliberations and reflections of global thought leaders brought together by the 2016 Univer-Cities conference, hosted by the University of Newcastle, have been documented in a book, to be launched tonight.

Univer Cities book

Designed to be relevant to campus planners, architects, city planners, mayors, futurists and educators, the book is based on the outcomes of the Newcastle-hosted conference, which explored how universities with strong medical origins are different to others and the unique opportunities that presents for the cities and regions they call home.

The book, titled Univer-Cities: Strategic Dilemmas of Medical Origins and Selected Modalities, volume III, includes a welcome address from University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, and a chapter co-authored by Laureate Professor John Aitken and Helen Le Gresley, the only Australian contribution.

“The University of Newcastle was delighted to host such an important international conference, which has re-cast the concept of cities in the context of their relationship to world-class medical universities,” Professor McMillen said.

The Newcastle-focused chapter, ‘Dilemma & Strategy: Shaping the University of Newcastle, Australia’ details how in the space of 18 years, Newcastle transformed from a heavy industry City of Steel to a Global Innovation Hub with the University at its core.

“The University of Newcastle has become a catalyst for international research and innovation and this is well evidenced in the field of health and medicine,” Pro Vice-Chancellor Health and Medicine, Laureate Professor Aitken, writes in the book.

The chapter explores how the University’s Faculty of Health and Medicine has become an agent for change within the institution and a major focus for Newcastle’s contribution to the univer-cities narrative.

Professor Aitken said if institutions such as the University of Newcastle were to continue developing and acting as beacons of inspiration and innovation for the regions they serve, they would have to engage in a new way of working.

“In the 21st century regional universities will have to be more involved in the economic and social development of their local communities by providing enabling expertise, advanced technology platforms and entrepreneurial culture.

“They will have to be tightly networked with regional and national government agencies, local health districts, primary healthcare networks, chambers of commerce and industry, and orchestrate programs of research and education that are globally-engaged yet regionally-focused.”

Building on the inaugural 2013 Conference held in Singapore, the 2016 international forum continued the conversations on the transformational role universities play in driving a city’s economic, social and cultural development.

The 2016 conference featured distinguished speakers from across the globe, including insights from past and present Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors of some of the world’s leading universities, including Cambridge, University of California, Berkeley, Nanyang Technological University and the University of Hong Kong.

Volume I Univer-Cities: Strategic Implications for Asia — Readings from Cambridge and Berkeley to Singapore was published in 2013, leading to the inaugural Univer-Cities Conference 2013. Volume IIUniver-Cities: Strategic View of the Future From Berkeley and Cambridge to Singapore and Rising Asia was the result of papers presented at the inaugural Univer-Cities Conference 2013.