University-business cooperation and partnership are crucial to innovation. Many different approaches and models for collaborative innovation exist. This thematic forum highlighted the educational aspects of innovation systems, specifically how universities working in partnership with economic actors can contribute to an innovative ecosystem. Partnerships around collaborative curriculum design, (skills) training, employability and entrepreneurial learning environments were looked at in both plenary and parallel sessions over the two days. Particular attention was given to SMEs and regional aspects.
The parallel sessions addressed three areas:
The activities of the University-Business Forum over the past few years have clearly demonstrated that cooperation between Higher Education and business in Europe is evolving. However, substantial differences exist between different countries, regions and between higher education institutions themselves. Though a number of interesting examples have been showcased through the forums, no general overview of the European situation existed. Therefore, it was decided that a specific study be carried out in order to get a better and more comprehensive understanding of University-Business Cooperation in Europe. A key element of the study was a survey directed at university management and academics. The response rate was outstanding and the sessions in this section presented and discussed the main findings and conclusions of this work.
In order to prepare the next generation of workers within the knowledge society, new approaches in education are necessary. Curricula must take into account not only academic standards but the needs of the private sector and the job market as well. There seems to be an increasing focus on skills and adaptability in European curricula while interdisciplinarity and mobility are also gaining importance.
The first session (B1) focused on collaborative intersectoral development of curricula at Bachelor and Master level, while the second session (B2) looked at what is happening at PhD level.
Europe needs to deploy its full entrepreneurial capacity in order to achieve the objectives of the Innovation Union. It is therefore vitally important that entrepreneurial skills are nurtured and encouraged at all levels of education and across all disciplines. The first workshop (C1) looked at how learning environments can generate and develop entrepreneurial attitudes and skills in young people. The second workshop (C2) looked at specific examples that demonstrate how student entrepreneurship can be applied in practice.