Universities play a central role in the development of Europe’s innovation ecosystems. They are driving innovation through their research activities, playing a crucial role in developing, attracting and retaining human talent, promoting business, and facilitating uptake of new technologies through cooperation with business as well as through start-ups and spin-outs. Their direct and indirect contributions go far beyond marketable products, including innovations that promote sustainability across society. Universities are also seen as ideally suited to “connect the dots” in innovation ecosystems because they are impartial, and they are driven by curiosity and long-term perspectives, rather than by commercial interests and short-term goals.
EUA is working closely with members across Europe to reinforce these roles. The Association is doing this in close consultation with its Innovation Ecosystems Expert Group through activities involving university leaders, regional and national policy makers and other stakeholders involved in innovation.
These activities draw from the evidence base developed by EUA in 2021 through its first ever survey on universities and innovation. With data from 166 institutions in 28 countries, the survey provides a Europe-wide picture of innovation at universities in terms of their institutional capacity to engage in innovation activities, and of their specific contributions to the green and digital transitions. The resulting recommendations to policy makers, funders, and universities will drive EUA’s agenda to enhance the contribution of universities to European innovation ecosystems in future years.
This work was preceded by a major study on the “Role of Universities in Regional Innovation Ecosystems” published in 2019. Its main recommendations for actions to improve the effectiveness of European regional research and innovation initiatives are formulated in the EUA policy position on smart specialisation strategies and in the EUA statement on the future of innovation ecosystems.
The results of this work feed into the Association’s advocacy towards more favourable framework conditions for university innovation. EUA is working to reduce regulatory burden for innovation, promote the participation of universities in EU innovation funding schemes, such as the European Innovation Council and the Digital Europe Programme, and support universities in shaping innovation strategies of their ecosystems. The Association also advocates for the recognition of the role of university innovation in related EU policies, such as the EU industrial and digital strategies and the European Green Deal.
Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) have been a useful tool in developing innovation ecosystems in many regions in Europe. Smart specialisation is an innovative approach that aims to increase economic growth in Europe, by helping regions to identify and develop their own competitive advantages. Through its bottom-up approach, smart specialisation brings together universities, businesses, public authorities and civil society around various priorities aimed at regional development.
Within the EU Cohesion Policy, smart specialisation is an enabling condition for regions to receive funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds. The purpose of this prerequisite is to allocate funds in more efficient way and to reinforce synergies between different EU, national and regional policies and funds.
EUA is actively involved in promoting the role of universities in the design, implementation and evaluation of RIS3 strategies. The Association gives also crucial importance to the need to achieve greater synergy between the future Horizon Europe programme and the European Structural and Investment Funds to support research and innovation activities. In order to support the active involvement of the university sector in the creation of European innovation ecosystems, EUA set up an Expert Group on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation.
Facilitating access to knowledge by sharing research results and improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry is a key for creation of innovation ecosystems. It was also identified as one of the objectives of the European Research Area.
One of EUA’s main priorities is to find ways to strengthen university cooperation with the business sector. The need to establish a more “trust-based partnership” between universities and businesses is key to turning more research results into goods and services for the benefit of our society.
This EUA position outlines the preliminary findings of a major study on innovation at European universities. It captures the different levels of innovation capacity at universities, as well as how these levels contribute to a wide range of impacts and social outcomes.
The next six months will be an important period for policy makers, the university sector and many other stakeholders engaged in Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3).
The OECD.AI Network of Experts developed a draft OECD Framework for Classifying AI Systems as a tool for policy-makers, regulators, legislators and others so that they can assess the opportunities and risks that different types of AI systems present and to inform their national AI...view more
The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) organises a virtual launch event of the book “Regional Innovation Impact of Universities” on 18 June. Registrations are now open and free to anyone interested. EUA Director for Research and Innovation Stephane Berghmans will be one of the...view more
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) launched the HEI Initiative: Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education, a new initiative to unlock the full innovation potential of higher education institutions by increasing their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity whilst...view more
The process to renew the European Research Area (ERA) is gathering pace and is set to continue in...read more
The European Commission’s Industrial Strategy for Europe and the European Digital Strategy...read more
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner-designate for Innovation and Youth, was well-received during her official hearing in the European Parliament on 30 September. As the College of Commissioners awaits final approval, Gabriel has already begun meetings with key stakeholders. This week she sat down with...view more
Nearly 450 participants gathered at the EUA Annual Conference on 11-12 April at the Sorbonne University in Paris to discuss how to drive innovation in and through universities across Europe. Delegates from 46 countries came together around four plenaries and seven parallel sessions and explored...view more
Following a two-year project involving intense field research, EUA published a major report...view more
Universities are moving away from linear concepts of innovation to closer co-creative approaches...read more
On 1 February, 15 university leaders and managers from 13 European countries gathered at the EUA focus group hosted by Aalborg University in Denmark to discuss the role of universities in innovation ecosystems and exchange views on the findings of a study on the topic soon to be published by...view more
The next six months are an important period for policy makers, the university sector and many other stakeholders engaged in Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3). With the ongoing preparations for the EU’s 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, the European...view more
The European University Association (EUA) welcomes the European Commission Joint Research...read more
EUA welcomes the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s report on “A Regional Innovation Impact: Assessment Framework for universities”. The report provides initial input to the discussion on EU-level regional innovation performance-based funding of universities and a related assessment...view more
In this reaction to the European Commission’s Communication on “Artificial...read more
On 7 March 2018, the EUA Expert Group on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) met in Brussels to discuss recent developments in this policy area. A joint workshop between EUA and Science|Business on the topic of synergies between EU framework and cohesion funding...view more
This document sets out the response of the European University Association (EUA) to the EC public consultation on smart specialisation. EUA has prepared this response in consultation with its Expert Group on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) and its Research Policy...read more
The European University Association (EUA) appreciates the European Commission’s interest in fostering innovation in Europe and welcomes the discussion on ideas for a European Innovation Council (EIC). EUA believes that a comprehensive strategy for facilitating well-functioning regional,...read more
This report presents the outcomes of the first meeting of EUA’s Expert Group on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3). It specifically makes recommendations for actions relevant to universities and public authorities at regional, national and European levels....read more
All universities are significantly dependent upon public funding as a major source of support for their research programmes. The difference between private and public universities is in the nature of their accountability for public funding. Whereas a private university is only...read more
The modernisation process of universities has historically highlighted the necessity of providing support structures to facilitate contacts and relationships between research groups and the outside environment, with the objective of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of...read more
The EUIMA Collaborative Research project used two complementary approaches to collect data on university-business cooperation – in-depth case studies through questionnaires and workshops. The project aimed at identifying main trends and cross-cutting issues in the long-term collaborative...read more
How universities can be part of smart specialisation was the question discussed by participants at a major Commission conference on 20 June 2014. The President of the European University Association (EUA) told over 300 stakeholders that it was the first time universities had been addressed jointly...read more
An unparalleled survey looks at innovation at universities across Europe. EUA expert Stephane...read more
All universities need more autonomy to be innovative, not only those engaged in the European...read more
Change is in the air. The Covid-19 crisis has turned our lives upside down, but well before this...read more
Providing students with the skills for multidisciplinary collaboration and entrepreneurship...read more
Europe must connect its ambition of being a digital leader with initiatives already happening at...read more
Universities together with business partners are the motors of regional development. As EUA’s...read more
Jean Chambaz, president of Sorbonne University, talks with EUA about the importance of innovation...read more
Alexandros Papaderos of the Technical University of Munich talks with EUA about the importance of...read more
Innovation is increasingly important for universities – as it is for society. Universities are one...read more
The increased focus on innovation as a key driver for our societies is influencing every single...read more
A stronger EU industrial policy is in the cards, including more investments in innovation, writes...read more
EUA presented the findings of its survey on innovation at European universities at an event in Brussels. Policy makers, university leaders and other research...Read more
EUA offered a webinar on universities and the European Innovation Council (EIC). The webinar gave an introduction to the purposes and function of the EIC in...Read more
EUA offered a webinar on open innovation and universities. The webinar featured examples from both the university and the private sectors, as well as the...Read more
The European University Association (EUA) and the University of Antwerp organised a focus group for university leaders from across Europe to discuss...Read more
Universities are at the centre of European knowledge-intensive ecosystems. By fostering multidisciplinarity, attracting human talent, and stimulating...Read more
Innovation is key to tackling today’s challenges, and it is a main driver for economic and societal development locally as well as globally. Innovation...Read more
The European University Association (EUA) is organising a Focus Group for university leaders across Europe to discuss the role of universities in innovation...Read more
Organised by EUA in collaboration with Universities Austria (UNIKO) and the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) within the framework of the EUA...Read more
2017 marked a crucial year for universities engaged in regional innovation. European policy-makers, the university sector and many other stakeholders are...Read more
The Workshop on “Universities as motors of innovation in Central and Eastern Europe” was the second in a series of workshops jointly organised by...Read more