The Five Most Innovative European Universities

Odhran O'Donoghue

30 September 2019

With access to government institutions, students and academics with political and technical education, and a drive to innovate, universities in capital cities are uniquely positioned to be centres of GovTech. Many European universities are now taking up that mantle, and have established schools and departments to specifically focus on digitisation and innovation in governance. We have picked the top five GovTech universities from across Europe who are ahead of the pack and are actively revolutionising services.

Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia 

As a nation where voting can be done over the Internet and every citizen has access to a digital identifier, Estonia fully embraces govtech. A university at the forefront of this movement is the Tallinn University of Technology; TalTech is home to the Ragnar Nurkse Institute for Information and Governance, which specialises in digital governance and public sector innovation. Current projects include SOHJOA Baltic – a project to integrate self-driving buses into the city of Tallinn, and COSMOLOCALISM – a European Research Council-funded project to assess the sustainability and impact of local manufacturing using designs from online commons. TalTech offers Masters courses and PhDs in Digital Transformation in the Public Sector and Smart Cities, amongst many other subjects.

University College London, England

The UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) is a leader in teaching and research on digital technology policy, sustainable development and urban innovation. STEaPP offers Masters courses in Public Administration across five specialist GovTech themes, and offers both research-focused and policy-focused doctoral training courses. UCL is also home to the GovTech Lab which explores the interface between government and emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain and internet of things technology. Finally, the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, directed by Mariana Mazzucato is changing how public value is imagined, practiced and evaluated to tackle societal challenges –  delivering economic growth that is innovation-led, sustainable and inclusive.

The Hertie School of Government, Germany

With more than half of the students in the university coming from abroad, the Hertie School is an international hub for the study and research of governance and public policy. Hertie offers education in digital transformation of governance and public sector innovation. The Hertie School is currently involved in a consortium of Berlin universities that form the Berlin Centre for Consumer Policies (BCCP). With a recent funding round of 1.1 million euros The BCCP aims to create an international platform for interdisciplinary research on consumer policies, to inform policymakers on issues relevant to the public debate. Hertie also runs a data science lab for tackling public policy challenges, and the university is currently creating a new centre for digital governance.

Sciences Po, France

As a historical centre of Parisian political education, Sciences Po is actively integrating GovTech into its curriculum. Digital, New Technology and Public Policy forms one of the 12 core policy streams of the institution. Sciences Po is also partnering with institutions across the city to deliver leading education in GovTech: with the Striate School of Design and Télécom ParisTech it is delivering a two-year masters in innovation and digital transformation in government. Furthermore, Sciences Po’s internal incubator has supported multiple GovTech companies, ranging from HubUp which aims to improve fleet management for public transport, to Datagora which looks to democratize access to statistical data for fact-checking.  

IE University, Spain

IE University in Madrid is home to The Center for the Governance of Change. The centre researches the big data, changing demographics, blockchain systems, sustainable development, biotech, and AI, all within the context of its political, economic and societal implications. It integrates such teaching into its curriculum, and runs executive programs that focus on these matters. IE is also home to the PublicTech Lab, which is a true hub to all things GovTech. It hosts a start-up catalyst program specific to addressing public problems. Combined with this, the lab runs a public service design lab to develop intrapreneurship: here, civil servants are taught to work with new digital technologies, and are given the opportunity to collaborate with citizens, designers and developers. IE also actively add to the GovTech ecosystem, producing events, reports and case studies.

Want to discover more about the GovTech industry & meet exciting innovators, investors & public servants making a difference? Come to the GovTech Summit in Paris on 14 Nov 2019 – Get your tickets here!

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