Ewch i’r prif gynnwys
Adrian Healy

Dr Adrian Healy

Principal Research Fellow

Ysgol Daearyddiaeth a Chynllunio

Sylwebydd y cyfryngau
Ar gael fel goruchwyliwr ôl-raddedig


Adrian's expertise focuses on innovation and regional economic development, combining knowledge of innovation, education and research initiatives. In this capacity he has worked with local, regional and national authorities in the UK as well as with several of the European Commission Directorate Generals and other Member States.

His experience includes working as an advisor on regional innovation to DG Research advisory groups and as an expert advisor to the ODPM House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Regional Disparities in Prosperity in the UK. He was also a member of the UK Government's expert panel on Neighbourhoods, Cities and Regions Analysis.

Adrian has longstanding research interests on the role of proximity in innovation and economic development, particularly the nature and activities of knowledge exchange networks. He recently contributed to an evaluation of the Marie Curie Actions, and led the evaluation of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for DG EAC. Other relevant work includes leading an evaluation of the regional dimension to EU R&D policies; undertaking the evaluation of the EU's Regions of Knowledge Pilot Action; leading a major study on the role of HEIs in the Greater South East on innovation and knowledge transfer in the UK, and various activities promoting the role of innovation in the present European Territorial Cooperation Objective. He was the author of the UK Government's 'Practical Guide to Cluster Development'.

His work spans the academic and policy boundaries, combining rigorous policy review with theoretical insights. He is currently leading two major European studies: one on regional economic resilience funded by the ESPON programme and the second on theme of regional innovation and smart specialization, financed by the EU's FP7.

Innovation and Engagement

Working at the interface of policy and research, Adrian is heavily involved in activities that engage with policy makers and practitioners.

Adrian is regularly invited to speak at conferences and policy events on themes ranging from EU regional programmes, research and innovation and economic resilience. These range from major EU policy events to smaller events concentrating on the situation in the UK or Wales.

Adrian has acted as an advisor to the House of Common's Select Committee inquiry into Regional Economic Disparities and has provided evidence to inquiries of the National Assembly Wales into EU R&D programmes in Wales. He has acted as rapporteur to European Commission expert groups examining the EU's Structural Funds and regional innovation.

Adrian provides expert comment to practitioner publications and has contributed to news and current affairs programme on the BBC. He wrote a monthly column on the theme of European Policy for one of the leading economic development publications for a number of years.


March 2014:

  • Adrian visited Glasgow to deliver a seminar on Economic Crisis, Regional Resilience and the Structural Funds at the European Policy Research Centre, Strathclyde University.
  • Adrian chaired a fringe event at the EU's annual Innovation Convention in Brussels. Attracting almost 100 policy makers and practitioners the session addressed the potential synergies between the EU's Structural Funds and other EU programmes to help strengthen the innovation performance of Europe's regions.

February 2014:

  • Adrian participated in a small expert workshop hosted by DG Education and Culture considering the role of Higher Education in promoting and strengthening innovation.

January 2014:

  • Adrian led a roundtable discussion for the Federation of Small Business in Wales on the subject of economic resilience, recovery and business choices, exploring small business responses to the economic crisis.
  • On behalf of Birmingham Science City, Adrian led a small-group workshop in Birmingham on the theme of Smart Specialisation and the opportunities for Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) in the West Midlands.

December 2013:

  • Adrian led a workshop for DG EAC exploring the benefits of University-Business Cooperation in the field of education and how this might be measured.
  • Adrian was in Vilnius, Lithuania, presenting the interim findings on Regional Economic Resilience to the biannual meeting of the ESPON programme.

November 2013:

  • Adrian visited Cantabria, Spain, where he provided expert advice on the development of their Smart Specialisation Strategy.
  • Adrian co-chaired the Opening Conference of our FP7 Smart Spec project, hosted at the European Parliament.

October 2013:

  • Adrian featured in interviews on the evening news of BBC Wales and the Sunday Politics Show, speaking on the EU's Structural Funds in Wales.
  • Adrian was an invited speaker at the EU's Open Days in Brussels, on the theme of Economic Resilience.

September 2013:

  • Adrian was in Tartu, Estonia, for the latest meeting of our ESPON project on economic resilience.
  • Adrian managed the initial meeting of our FP7 SMARTSPEC project, bringing together the 11 partners from across the EU.

August 2013:

  • Adrian chaired a very successful session at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference, organised by CEG, on the theme of economic resilience.















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Adrian's research activities lie at the interface of regional innovation, regional economic resilience and European policies. The common feature is an interest in the management and development of spatial areas and the relationships between spaces of activity. He has an emerging interest in the role of new network forms in supporting and sustaining new spaces of innovation.

Adrian is currently leading three major research projects:

Regional Innovation and Smart Specialisation.
Funded by the EU's FP7 research programme this high profile 3-year project is examining the principles and practices underpinning the European Commission's new approach to stimulating research and innovation activity across European territories.

Economic Crisis: Regional Resilience.
The economic crisis raised important questions for policy makers and economic geographers alike. Why are some regions better able to withstand economic shocks than others? Why do some recover more quickly, whilst others appear to experience sustained stagnation. This pan-European research project is supported by the ESPON research programme with funds from the European Commission and all Member States. It will report in late 2014.

Measuring the outcomes of University-Business collaboration in the field of education.
Whilst there has been much research examining the practices and processes underpinning cooperation between universities and businesses for research and innovation purposes, there is much less understanding of cooperation for educational reasons. Funded by the EU's DG Education and Culture this project aims to fill this gap and to provide practical advice on how cooperating organisations, or those funding cooperation activities, might begin to measure the success of their activities.

Adrian is based within the University's Centre for Economic Geography and contributes to the School's Urban and Regional Governance Research Group.


Adrian undertook his PhD at Cardiff University, following a successful career in public policy consultancy. His PhD research into the regional dimensions of EU research policies enabled him to explore in more depth particular interests he had developed whilst working in practice.

Prior to joining Cardiff University, Adrian was a Director of the European consultancy company, ECORYS, specialising in regional economic development, EU policy analysis and the regional dimensions of research and innovation. Whilst with ECORYS, Adrian managed the company's office in Brussels and also led the Innovation Policy Division of the company.

Adrian is a keen sailor and prior to beginning work at Cardiff University he participated in a round the world sailing race. He is currently planning a transatlantic race in 2015, so watch this space!

Adrian also holds an undergraduate degree in economics and geography from the University of Newcastle and a post-graduate degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Strathclyde.

Key facts

  • 1986-1989 : BA (Hons) Economics and Geography. University of Newcastle
  • 1989-1991 : MSc Urban and Regional Planning. University of Strathclyde
  • 1991-1994 : Researcher, University of Strathclyde (local economic development)
  • 1994-2004 : Consultant rising to Director, ECORYS (European urban and regional development)
  • 2004-2008 : PhD Cardiff University (regional research and innovation)
  • 2009-2010 : Round the World sailing race
  • 2010- : School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University

Meysydd goruchwyliaeth

I am interested in supervising students in the areas of urban water resilience and water justice, particularly with respect to access to water in urban areas of low and middle income countries.