– We need to open up for being more experimental

Research on innovation plays a crucial role in addressing society's challenges in a sustainable manner. At HVL, the doctoral programme in responsible innovation and regional development is pivotal for the development of our institution.

Today's society is full of complex problems and challenges, whether it's about how to create new green and competitive jobs or how to improve the quality of the public sector.

HVL's doctoral programme RESINNREG brings together Ph.D. candidates from across three different faculties, making interdisciplinarity a key word in the program.

"We can't work separately. Complex issues require us to work across disciplines," says Professor and head of programme, Jill Merethe Loga.

Green transition, citizen involvement, and artist-driven initiatives

Green transition in the tourism industry, regional development in the salmon farming industry, citizen involvement in public services, and artist-driven initiatives in rural development are some examples of what the Ph.D. candidates are focusing on in their research projects. The future goal of the programme is to have even closer connections between health, economics, natural sciences, and social sciences.

"So far, a total of 35 candidates have been admitted to the doctoral programme. Two have defended their theses, and we expect two new submitted dissertations to be assessed by the summer," says Loga.

PhD candidates Susanne Eriksen and Anne Sofie Handal Bjelland took on the task of investigating among the 35 RESINNREG scholars how they practice applied, and possibly also experimental, dimensions in their PhD projects within responsible innovation and regional development. Together with Mohammed Nazar, they made a video
with some of the answers.

Active contributors to society

Professor Lars Coenen is chair of the programme committee for the doctoral program. He emphasizes that in addition to the interdisciplinary dimension, RESINNREG also fosters experimentation.

"Through the programme, one should investigate, develop, and reflect on research-based solutions to societal problems and challenges. We expect the candidates to be at the forefront of research, and also to be active contributors to  society, says Coenen.

Jill Loga and Lars Coenen. Photo: HVL/Elin B. Øvrebø

The importance of context

In the upcoming years we are facing extensive transformations in large parts of the business sector in Western Norway. At the same time, new solutions are required to face challenges in the public sector.

"Although many societal challenges bear  similarities across regions and countries, they will need to be addressed in specific ways sensitive to their context. Conditions for innovation in cities differ from those in rural areas. Similarly there are  differences between societal challenges and innovations between  the Global North and  Global South. In many of RESINNREG's Ph.D. projects, context and co-creation in change processes are emphasized," he says.

Innovation is at the core of HVLs profile

The leader of the university project, Dag Stenvoll, greatly appreciates the development of the doctoral programme and its central role for the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL) and our development towards achieving university status.

"With its focus on regional development through innovation in the private and public sectors, this programme is at the core of our profile. The Ph.D. program also aligns well with HVL's new strategy, which emphasizes responsible innovation as a guiding principle in our interaction with society and the labor market," says Stenvoll.