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.
EUA has developed a substantial amount of work in university-business partnerships, specifically through the EUIMA-Collaborative Research project and the Responsible Partnering Initiative.
Developing a comprehensive approach to innovation for the benefit of universities is at the core of the European University Association’s vision for the future of European higher education and research.
The European University Association welcomes the European Commission’s Communication on A New European Innovation Agenda, notably as an overarching innovation agenda is needed to tackle specific bottlenecks which stunt Europe’s innovation performance, and to achieve consistency and effective implementation of the various tools available for this purpose.
On 30 March, members of the new EUA Expert Group on Innovation came together for a first meeting...view more
Today, the Council of the European Union adopted Conclusions on the New European Innovation Agenda. The European University Association (EUA) welcomes this decision and notes the emphasis on a broader range of innovation processes and stakeholders that should have been included in the Agenda from...view more
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The EuroScience Open Forum 2022 (ESOF2022) will take place from 13 to 16 July 2022 in Leiden, the Netherlands. Several EUA colleagues will organise and contribute to various sessions during the conference, in both hybrid and online settings. ESOF was founded in 2004 by EuroScience, the...view more
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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
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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
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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
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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
On 21 and 22 February 2013 at the premises of the European Commission Joint Research Centre, the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), in Seville (Spain) a group of experts from regions and universities with experience of cooperation in research and innovation debated...read more
This Handbook describes a voluntary programme of Responsible Partnering aimed at improving strategic collaboration and knowledge exchange between companies and publicly-funded research organizations (for convenience, referred to as PROs), including Universities, Research and...read more
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