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Cooperation with regional ecosystems is a vital link in the innovation chain. How can it be strengthened by European university alliances like CIVIS? RIS4CIVIS Module 3 addresses the challenge of reinforcing cooperation between academia and business in the field of research and innovation (R&I). One key challenge is the heterogeneity of the CIVIS member universities when it comes to the various aspects of academia-business cooperation.

Our objectives for academia-business cooperation in R&I

Following a benchmarking and an intensive tandem process, the Module 3 chose to reinforce academia-business R&I cooperation by working on two case studies

  1. A CIVIS Innovation Strategy will identify university-specific and common challenges and propose joint actions to increase innovation capacity in areas such as the transfer of technology. Researchers will benefit from better support structures to convert research results into economic and/or societal value.
  2. A strategy for start-up ecosystems will identify issues and challenges on a regional level which we can address collectively as an Alliance. Researchers and other university stakeholders will benefit from an upgraded support structure when starting a company. This could eventually include a wide range of consulting services as well as joint entrepreneurial trainings programmes for researchers, students and staff.

For both case studies, our plan is to develop matrices that serve as guidelines for formulating strategies which are applicable for all CIVIS universities. The benchmarking phase highlighted the diversity of the CIVIS member universities in their approach to business-academia R&I cooperation, so we will first define a common understanding of innovation strategies and start-up ecosystems. The guidelines will also help to:

  • Identify topics of common interest
  • Foster inter-university cooperation among the CIVIS members to tackle specific challenges regarding innovation capacity and (regional) start-up ecosystems
  • Provide the basis for recommendations to policy makers

 

Our activities on academia-business R&I cooperation

Work to develop and test these two sets of strategic guidelines is already underway. As part of the RIS4CIVIS Week, which took place in Stockholm in October 2022, innovation experts from across the CIVIS Alliance participated in a series of Module 3 workshops:

  • Defining an Innovation Strategy: After a short theoretical introduction, participants mapped the aspects that should be considered when creating an innovation strategy. We agreed on a matrix that can be used to create innovation strategies. The matrix will now be tested at university level, while we also use it identify topics of common interest to underpin the innovation strategies of the CIVIS member universities.
  • Building/creating a start-up ecosystem: Participants discussed and agreed on a matrix that can serve as a framework when drafting a strategy for creating/improving start-up ecosystems. The matrix shall now be tested at university level to evaluate its relevance and applicability to what our members are doing, and to define specific issues and challenges that we can work on together.
  • Start-up related trainings: Inspired by the phases of start-up development, participants defined the challenges, needs and expectations of students, researchers, or alumni. We then identified training programmes and workshops to meet these needs, before assessing whether these could be offered at CIVIS level. These will serve as a starting point for further reflections as we jointly identify basic start-up training needs and experiment with joint trainings were possible.