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University and Research Leadership Forum

University and Research
Leadership Forum

Unveiling a Blueprint for Place-Based Innovation

The University Research and Leadership Forum (URLF) is launching a groundbreaking initiative to decode the success of high-performing university-anchored innovation ecosystems and connect globally the assets in ecosystems linked to GFCC university members. Our ultimate goals are to to accelerate place-based innovation and catalyze innovative initiatives within the GFCC network, mobilizing assets that are globally distributed.


As part of this initiative, over the next few years, the URLF will embark on a series of immersive study trips to thriving innovation hubs worldwide and leadership dialogues among GFCC university members. We'll collaborate with our members to distill firsthand key learnings gained through their experiences, map their key assets and consolidate a comprehensive toolkit for place-based innovation. This toolkit will offer a roadmap for universities to foster economic growth, social impact, and lasting prosperity in their communities and regions.

Join a curated community of global leaders across industries. Visit university-anchored innovation hubs globally. Explore cross-border partnership opportunities and unlock new opportunities.

Participate in exclusive high-profile discussions and workshops. Gain exclusive insights on the latest innovations, local realities, and identify key assets driving diverse innovation ecosystems.

Uncover best practices and work with peers to create a toolkit for place-based innovation. Leverage assets across ecosystems linked to GFCC university members to launch innovative initiatives and products.

Join this group of university and research institutions on an exciting journey as we redefine the role of universities in driving place-based innovation and build innovative joint initiatives.

May 1st, 2024
The URLF Steering Committee, comprising representatives from Aston University, University of California San Diego, Catholic University of Portugal, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, and the University of Auckland, convened to align key concepts for the new Place-Based Innovation phase.

May 29, 2024
The upcoming URLF Plenary session will be a pivotal moment for GFCC University members to reaffirm their commitment to the Forum, align on shared goals, and prepare to embark on the new phase of collaboration in driving university-led innovation.

Nov 8, 2024
First study trip to Birmingham Innovation Quarter in Birmingham, UK And Leadership dialogue on Universities 4.0 at Conference Aston, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

Details on our 2025 and 2026 study trips and leadership dialogues will be announced shortly. Stay tuned!

The URLF’s Journey

The GFCC University and Research Leadership Forum (URLF) is a dynamic hub where thought leaders collaborate and explore trends and strategies to reshape the future of higher education and innovation. The URLF disseminates actionable insights from case studies and innovative models for university and research institutions to drive transformative change.

2019 - 2022
A Time of Accelerated Transformation

In 2019, URLF members gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan, to envision the future of universities amidst evolving technologies and the innovation economy.

They introduced University 4.0—an impact-oriented, tech
-enabled institution.

A Time of Accelerated Transformation

Collaborating with prestigious universities, the URLF released papers and engaged in online dialogues.

COVID-19 hit in 2020, forcing universities into accelerated transformation.

The URLF analyzed the pandemic's impacts, surveying strategies and models.

The result: "Shift: Universities in Transformation" report—a profound exploration of higher education's future shaped by Covid-19.

A Time of Accelerated Transformation

2016 - 2019
Placing universities at the heart of innovation

The URLF launched in London, uniting 38 university leaders, philanthropists, executives, and policymakers from 20 countries.

It fostered a dialogue on universities' role in driving innovation and transformative tech projects.

Placing universities at the heart of innovation

Two task forces reviewed tools and extreme projects, leading to groundbreaking reports: "Optimizing Innovation Alliance" and "Leveraging Extreme Innovation."

Workshops in Brazil, Russia, Qatar, the U.S., and Kazakhstan further shared findings with communities and stakeholders.

Listen to 2016 URLF inaugural meeting attendees share insights on the significance of URLF's work.

Get Involved

To be included in advancing place-based innovation and enhancing universities' economic influence and impact, fill out the form below. A leader from the GFCC will assist you in setting up a call or send a formal invitation letter.

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