Professor Kevin Morgan has secured a prestigious role to advise the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, who is responsible for a €351 billion budget to boost the standard of living in some of Europe's poorest cities and regions.
He has become a special adviser to Corina Cretu, who is responsible for one-third of the EU's total budget as she seeks to reduce economic and social inequalities.
Professor Morgan, said the scale of the challenge was immense, but he believed that Ms Cretu's commitment to partnership working would help to boost innovation and development in Europe's less developed regions.
"Collaboration is the secret of innovation and regional development," he said.
"Our research at Cardiff has underlined the importance of robust institutions, good governance and dynamic partnerships. If I can help to disseminate that message to policymakers then that can help regions to make the best of their resources.
"You can't turn a less developed region into a highly developed region of course, but you can help the poorest regions to raise their game and enhance their quality of life."
EU regional policy supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, improved quality of life and sustainable development to create a European Union "where people in all our regions and cities can realise their full potential".
Some €351 billion is set aside to achieve these goals up to 2020 through European Structural and Investment Funds. The EU's regional policy is focused on innovation and the governance of institutions, areas in which Professor Morgan – also an adviser to Cardiff Capital Region - has broad experience.
"A lot of my writing on regions has been on the role of institutions in innovation and the need for poorer regions to pay more attention to the quality of their institutions and governance," he said.
"Innovation needs to be taken more seriously. Corruption and incompetence in a country can totally undermine the effectiveness of EU policy. That's why good governance is at the top of the agenda. My role is to advise on institutional building and good governance as part of regional development strategy."
He added that he totally agreed with Ms Cretu's comments at a European Parliament public hearing in which she said that "institutional capacity, good governance and strong public and private partnerships are more important than money".
Mikel Landabasso, Corina Cretu's Chef de Cabinet, welcomed Professor Morgan's appointment.
He said: "Kevin's research work on regional innovation systems, green growth and the link between multi-level governance and development trajectories, coupled with his hands-on experience in the field, understanding policy makers' concerns and limitations, makes him a precious asset for Commissioner Cretu's Cohesion Policy reform agenda in line with better expending and effective impact on the ground."