University Assistant (prae doc): Socio-economic sustainability transformations and place-based innovation policy in disadvantaged regions

Supervision: Michaela Trippl and Simon Baumgartinger-Seiringer (Department of Geography and Regional Research)


Project outline:

Societal challenges such as the climate crisis, environmental degradation, digitalisation, pandemics and increasing inequalities call for system-wide innovation and transformation processes of established socio-economic structures. Such processes unfold unevenly across space, ‘producing’ winner regions and leaving other regions behind.

Building on recent advances in research on the geography of innovation and sustainability transitions, the overall aim of this PhD project is to explore both conceptually and empirically how different types of disadvantaged regions cope with the pressure to phase-out unsustainable structures and pathways and to build new ones in response to societal challenges and to assess the role of novel policy approaches (particularly place-based innovation policies for sustainability) to facilitate such processes. 

Key research questions include: what place-specific structures, multiscalar dynamics and agencies enable and constrain socio-economic sustainability transformations in disadvantaged regions? How do such processes unfold in different regions in Central Europe? What is the role of the regional policy level in emerging mission-oriented and transformative innovation policy practices?

Job Description:               

The position aims to deepen and extend the professional and scientific education targeting a doctoral degree. Tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Participation in research, teaching and administration in the working group Economic Geography
  • A doctoral thesis agreement is expected to be concluded within one year
  • Participation in research projects, publications and acquisition of third-party-funded projects
  • Participation in and independent holding of courses in the scope of the collective agreement provisions,
  • Supervision of students

The candidate who is selected for this position joins VISESS as a PhD student member.


  • Geography or a related discipline: University Master’s Degree or equivalent
  • Excellent knowledge in the field of economic geography, innovation research, sustainability transitions, innovation policy
  • In-depth knowledge in qualitative and/or quantitative research methods
  • Very good command of written and spoken English
  • Ability to work in a team

We offer:

  • Job grading in accordance with collective bargaining agreement: §48 VwGr. B1 Grundstufe (praedoc) with relevant work experience determining the assignment to a particular salary grade
  • An active and inspiring research environment, a vibrant PhD community and many ways to connect with peers from home and abroad on a social and professional level
  • A broad range of interdisciplinary training possibilities and school activities, such as leadership skill trainings, workshops, seminars, mobility and summer schools


Expected starting date: at the earliest possible date

Duration of employment: 4 years
(The employment relationship is initially limited to 1.5 years and automatically extended to a total of 4 years, unless the employer submits a declaration of non-renewal after a maximum of 12 months).

Extent of employment: 30 hours/week

Application: Interested students can apply until the extended deadline of 15 April 2023 via:     

Further information: For further information, please contact Michaela Trippl: or Simon Baumgartinger-Seiringer:

The University pursues a non-discriminatory employment policy and values equal opportunities, as well as diversity ( The University lays special emphasis on increasing the number of women in senior and in academic positions. Given equal qualifications, preference will be given to female applicants.