UniNE Instructor and Economic Geography and Innovation Researcher

Born in 1982

Live in Neuchâtel

Brief Background

Hugues Jeannerat was born in Delémont. Involved in community projects from a very young age, Hugues soon developed a keen interest in regional development and related community issues. While at school, he dreamed of developing tourism projects bringing together various stakeholders in order to promote the local economy.

In 2000, he began his studies at the School of Economic and Social Sciences of Neuchâtel University (UniNE). He completed an interdisciplinary program, and graduated with a degree in political science. His time at this small university made quite an impression. Hugues greatly appreciated the close interactions between students and professors, and the links established between the various disciplines (law, economics, sociology, geography, history and political science).

He believes regional innovation offers substantive means for unifying economic, social and institutional (legal and political) interests. As a UniNE PhD student, he participated in EURODITE, a major European research project on the knowledge economy and innovation. In 2012, he completed his thesis on the importance of innovation and value creation in Swiss watchmaking.

Between 2013 and 2017, he coordinated two Agora projects promoting dialogue between the social sciences and society as a whole. One of the projects focused on the future of innovation policy in Switzerland. The other addressed the development of joint innovation projects in the canton of Neuchâtel.
At the same time, he coordinated a collaborative project at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Processes (Maison d’analyse des processus sociaux MAPS), which promoted the contribution of social science to innovation. It was through this project that close collaboration with the Intellectual Property and Innovation Hub (Pôle de propriété intellectuelle et de l’innovation [PI] 2) at UniNE developed, resulting in the creation of an Interdisciplinary Masters in Innovation, a first in Switzerland.

How has Microcity contributed to your work ?

Microcity is currently a label that represents an opportunity to think, work and innovate together. This label, for example, was used for the 2016 Territorial Days that we co-organised with HE-Arc, in the field of management. The next step is to demonstrate real impact through interdisciplinary collaborations that combine research, business and the broader society.

What research that could benefit the other members of Microcity is currently being undertaken as part of the Masters in Innovation ?

This Masters degree, one of a kind in Switzerland, will tackle innovation in its broadest sense: the conditions necessary for innovation, the management of innovation, case studies and theories of innovation. These different angles give us an interdisciplinary view of innovation and help us to build bridges between students, researchers, firms and society as a whole. In practice, this will involve specific seminars, workshops and conference cycles.

In your view, how important is the Microcity innovation hub for the canton of Neuchâtel ?

Beyond leading-edge research and the potential for innovation that the hub offers for the region’s firms, I think Microcity best represents the potential of our human resources to imagine and plan for the future economy and society in the Swiss Jura Arc region. Students at every level are, to me, human resources whose potential must be more fully realised. They are what differentiate Microcity from other Swiss innovation hubs that are primarily focused on the link between research and industry. Actions led and co-developed with students and geared towards the future of our economy, society and region could generate collective, reflexive, creative, interdisciplinary and intergenerational momentum. Microcity would then become more than just a label, but could actively guide and drive economic, technological and social innovation above and beyond simple technology transfer.


Written by Victoria Barras

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