Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be keen to supervise doctoral projects on regional innovation policy and levelling up, and on the role of universities in urban vitality.

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Personal profile

Research interests

In recent years David’s research has focused primarily on regional aspects of innovation and innovation policy, and on the regional and community role of universities. David has been involved in studies on regional innovation policy for the European Commission, OECD and national regional bodies, since 1986. Much of this work has focused on the role of innovation in Less Favoured Regions, most recently as part of a large evaluation of the European Regional Development Fund over 20 years in 15 regions. A related interest has been in innovation management in mainly smaller firms, with recent work on open innovation in Scottish SMEs. David has also undertaken a variety of studies of universities regional impact and engagement for individual universities, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, OECD, and other UK government bodies. He developed a suite of metrics and indicators used annually now by the UK to measure the engagement of universities with business and the community. David has also led ESRC and EU framework Programme projects across all of these research themes.

David recently participated in an EU Marie Curie Innovative Training Network on The Role of Universities in Regional Innovation through his previous engagement in Lincoln. He supervised two early career researchers there looking at the role of personal networks in knowledge exchange, and the role of universities in regional innovation strategies.

Previous recent projects before joining Northumbria include:

BioSTEP: Promoting Stakeholder Engagement and Public Awareness for a Participative Governance of the European Bioeconomy — Horizon 2020 in 2015

The Role of Cities in Cohesion Policy — European Parliament in 2013

Evaluation of the main achievements of Cohesion Policy programmes and projects over the longer term in 15 selected regions — European Commission DG Regio in 2011

The regional role of Higher Education in the Basque Country — OECD in 2011

The regional role of Higher Education in Victoria — OECD in 2009

Practical benefits of innovation-related policy instruments’ — OECD in 2009

Contribution of policies at the regional level to the realisation of the European Research Area’ — European Commission ERAWATCH in 2009

Ex post evaluation of cohesion policy programmes 2000-2006. Work package on structural change and globalisation – UK case studies’ — European Commission in 2008

Exploiting the potential of the subsea energy cluster in the North East of England: promoting collaborative working to address the skills and recruitment gap — ESRC Business Engagement Scheme in 2008

The role of collective leadership in regional innovation strategies’ — NESTA in 2007

NESTA Fellowship on science cities’ — NESTA in 2007

Universities and community engagement: learning with excluded communities’ — ESRC in 2007

David is a visiting professor currently at Tampere University, Finland and Lincoln University. He has previously been a visiting professor at Curtin University, Australia,  Newcastle University, Anglia Ruskin University and RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science, and a Fellow of the Regional Studies Association.


Further Information

Research Grants

In his career since 1985 David has been involved in around 100 funded research and consultancy projects, the majority as the principal investigator, Including several funded by the ESRC, and the EU Framework Programmes (3, 4, 5, 6 and Horizon 2020).

He has undertaken consultancy studies over the past 30 years for the OECD, European Commission, UK government departments (DTI, DETR, OST), HEFCE, Universities UK, regional development agencies, Newcastle City Council, Leeds City Council, Core Cities Group and others.

David has longstanding collaboration with a number of researchers across Europe and in Australia. He has recently worked with researchers from the Universities of Stavanger, Twente, Linköping, Aalborg, Aveiro, Lincoln and the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Previous doctoral students

Taehwan Kim, The Geography of the Advanced Producer Services Industry (Newcastle University) 1997.

Gareth Potts, Towards the Embedded University (Newcastle University)1999.

Paul Benneworth, Industrial modernisation in the North East of England, (Newcastle University) 2002

Stuart Dawley, Understanding and responding to plant closures: the case of the microelectronics industry in the North East region (Newcastle University) 2003.

Fiona Whitehurst, Cluster Strategies in Local Economic Development (Newcastle University) 2007.

John Williams, Internet based approaches to identifying clusters (Newcastle University) 2008.

Dawn Cranswick, Inside the black box of business support (Newcastle University 2009

Stephen Doak, The relational tacit dimensions of knowledge used within the processes of professional practice (Newcastle University) 2008.

Dessy Irawati, The Indonesian automotive cluster and the role of Japanese MNCs (Newcastle University) 2010

Casmir Maazure, What Planners Do in a Restricted Planning Social Space: Visualising Creativity, Empowerment and Productive Design and Use of a UK University’s Information Technology Systems. (University of Lincoln) 2019.

Alex Alterskye, What is the context of entrepreneurship: an investigation into the field of entrepreneurship in a region (University of Lincoln) 2020.

Aekachai Khuenmanee – Proximity and university industry links: Case study of a science park in Thailand (University of Lincoln) passed with corrections

Dannuo Zhu – The regional impact of Business Schools (University of Lincoln) passed with corrections

Maria Salomaa – Universities and the ERDF (University of Lincoln) 2020

Rhoda Ahoba-Sam – Academic personal networks and university industry links. (University of Lincoln) 2020


David Charles is Professor of Enterprise and Innovation and Director of the Northumbria Centre for Innovation, Regional Transformation and Entrepreneurship (iNCITE). He joined Northumbria from the University of Lincoln where he was Director of Research and Deputy Head of College in Lincoln International Business School.  David started his career as an economic geographer with an interest in the location of R&D and innovative activities, and was for many years a researcher in the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University, before taking up the David Goldman Chair of Business Innovation in the Business School there. In Newcastle University Business School, he was director of research then director of a faculty research institute for policy and practice. He also established a new research centre on Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise (KITE).  He moved from Newcastle to Curtin University in Perth, Australia where he was dean of research in the Business faculty before moving to Strathclyde where he was professor of regional economic development and policy at the European Policies Research Centre. He moved from there to Lincoln in 2014 and joined Northumbria in 2018.

Education/Academic qualification

Geography, PhD, Newcastle University

Award Date: 1 Feb 1992

Geography, BA (Hons), Newcastle University

Award Date: 1 Jul 1982

External positions

Professor, University of Lincoln

2018 → …

Professor, Tampere University

2010 → …


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