EuroTech Universities Alliances – Modernization, Excellence, Societal Impact

EuroTech Universities Alliances – Modernization, Excellence, Societal Impact

6th November 2018

On 6 November, WRB attended a EuroTech Universities event ahosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU. This event discussed the need for universities to embrace new initiatives such as Open Science, interdisciplinarity, innovative education, entrepreneurship and industry collaboration to address the changing role of universities and recognising the part they play in combatting global societal issues.


Key Takeaways

  • Erasmus+ – Key Action 2 – Knowledge Alliances call, connecting higher education institutions and businesses on a transnational level. Minimum of 6 independent organisations from at least 3 countries, with at least 2 HEIs and 2 enterprises.
    Please see link for further information below
  • Technion, Israel Institute of Technology will be the sixth university to join the EuroTech Universities Alliance from 1 January 2019.


Panel Discussion with Jean-Eric Pacquet (DG for Research and Innovation), Themis Christophidou (DG for Education, Youth, Sport & Culture), Eric Labaye (President of École Polytechnique and new-coming Pres. to the Alliance) and Wolfgang A. Herrmann (Pres. of Technical University of Munich, Founding Pres. of the Alliance)

Q: What are the benefits of collaboration?

  • Pacquet:
    • Universities are integral to pioneering new technologies. Universities can act as the interlocutor and form hubs of academic research and innovation
    • Universities are the EU’s allies to promote a horizontal approach to societal challenges
    • Horizon Europe will be more cross-cutting as no single area has authority over the budget lines
    • Universities are natural key players as innovators and some have already proven experience in competing worldwide
    • Necessary to include businesses and universities – as emphasised by the Erasmus+ – Key Action 2 – Knowledge Alliances call (see further info below)
  • Christophidou:
    • Universities will be able to modernise and be more inclusive. In creating synergies, we will ‘futureproof’ universities.
    • Students are our guides in this, we are looking at a ‘bottom up’ approach
    • How to build synergies among the DGs, particularly DG Connect, DG Research and DG Education
    • The structure of funding has changed and is no longer siloed – ‘no-one may hold part of the budget and sit on it’ in the new Horizon Europe
  • Labaye:
    • Need to share best practice
    • Universities need to be more proactive and look at new ways of creating joint degrees with shared values
  • Herrman:
    • Universities must become internationally competitive
    • Need to overcome siloed thinking, both in subject-research and in alliances

Showcase of individual universities innovations

  • Jes Broeng, Professor of Photonics and Founding Director of DTU Entrepeneurship, states that H2020 is important for SMEs as it de-risks projects and can create contacts across Europe
  • We must come up with initiatives that are purpose-based, human-centred and democratised
  • Medical technologies
  • Self-charging cars
  • Robotics and AI

Panel Discussion with Patricia Reilly (Deputy Head of Cabinet, Commissioner Tibor Navracsics of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport), Jan Mengelers (Pres. of EuroTech Universities Alliance and Eindhoven University of Technology), Katrin Beyer (Associate Professor and Chair of Open Science Committee, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Thierry Rayna (Professor, École Polytechnique), Jes Broeng (Professor and Founding Director of DTU Entrepeneurship) and Sami Haddadin (Professor and Director of Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence, Technical University of Munich)

Q: How can higher education best excel?

Q: How to facilitate conversations between universities and policy-makers?

Q: How can universities be better at Open Science?

  • Reilly:
    • Graduates need to work cross-culture and cross-discipline
    • Universities need to teach ‘generic’ skills like ability to communicate and think critically
    • There is a huge divide in university accessibility. More people are going but there is more to be done
    • Universities cannot respond alone. They should be properly resourced at a national level
    • We need to be more aware that the universities play a crucial role in addressing global issues
    • Need to see where graduates end up – Council Recommendation to standardise this information across member states (see link below)
    • Once we have this data we can identify problems more easily and focus our attention accordingly
    • There are tensions between research and teaching. We should be encouraging undergraduates to carry out world-class research at early stages of their academic lives
    • To encourage cross-disciplinary study we need a new standard to measure inter-disciplinary research
  • Beyer (university perspective):
    • Open Science is the catalyst for change
    • Can sometimes be difficult for universities to address issues as there are constant new challenges that the EU focusses on
  • Rayna:
    • We need to change the way that information is disseminated and increase access
    • Is the structure there for universities to modernise? And how can we support it?
  • Broeng:
    • As researchers, we need to expand outside our own fields, have an open ecosystem and have dialogue cross-field
    • It is difficult to expect this to change immediately. We need role models and open-minded professors
  • Mengeles:
    • We need to recognise the changing role of universities
    • We see open universities becoming innovation hubs and acting as platforms for research. Universities can better distinguish what is good and what is not
    • Research and education are in symbiosis
    • University alliances or collaborations can lead to lobbying, as it did in the EuroTech Alliance
  • In January 2019, the alliance will welcome its sixth member, University Technion, Israel

Q: Is there a fragmented Europe?

  • Reilly: 10 years since the creation of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the ‘knowledge triangle’ of HEIs, research and business, in Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).
    • By bringing this together, the EIT can promote innovation in and across Europe
    • They are leading, recognise weakness quickly and show a will to improve

Q: Does the new framework programme give freedom? Will it pave the way for innovation?

  • Haddadin: There are many things we do well
    • In the broad field of AI, Europe is leading
    • In robotics, Europe is leading
    • Alliances allow for leading innovation
  • Rayna:
    • The new programme gives strength to start-ups and recognises that Europe is not just one market
    • How can universities act as gatekeepers and gateways for other nations’ businesses?
  • Reilly: Erasmus+, Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe are all very outward looking. This is emphasised in extension of associate countries to 33
  • Beyer: As researchers we benefit from social funding and it is our duty to share these benefits. Open Science is a way to address these concerns directly

For further information:

Erasmus+ – Key Action 2 – Knowledge Alliances call:

Technion joins the EuroTech Universities Alliance:


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