What is it?

The European Commission supports links between university and business at the European level through a series of initiatives. Closer links between business and higher education can:

  • encourage the transfer and sharing of knowledge,
  • create long-term partnerships and opportunities,
  • drive innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.

Closer cooperation with business helps universities develop curricula that are relevant and meet the needs of students and society. This helps give graduates the right skills and mind-sets for the jobs market.

There are many examples of successful cooperation between academia and industrypdf(3.25 Mb) in Europe. However, the level of co-operation varies considerably between different countries, universities and academic disciplines.

How does the EU support this?

The University-Business Forum

The University-Business forum, held almost every year since 2008, brings together:

  • higher education institutions
  • companies
  • business associations
  • intermediaries
  • public authorities

It gives them a chance to meet at European level to discuss, network and exchange ideas and good practice. The Forum looks at the current situation in university-business cooperation and at what policy initiatives and programmes are needed to support this. The last Forum took place in Brussels in March 2015 (conference reportpdf) and the next is being organised for Spring 2017.

Thematic Forums are also held in cooperation with Member States to address key topics at national and regional level. Forums have taken place over the last year in Vilnius, Stockholm, Madrid, Rome and Berlin (see below for conference reports). The last forum was held in Vienna (find out more on the Austria UB-forum website) on 25-26 February 2016; the conference report will be published soon. The next meeting will take place in Helsinki on 2-3 June 2016; more detailed information is available on the UB Forum website.

A discussion forum on University-Business Cooperation has also been launched on the Yammer platform (users may need to register).

Two major Commission initiatives which have come out of the University-Business Forum discussions are HEInnovate, a self-assessment tool for Higher Education and the Knowledge Alliances.


HEInnovate is a self-assessment tool designed to provide Higher Education Institutions with advice, ideas, and inspiration to manage institutional and cultural change. Find out more on the HEInnovate website.

Knowledge Alliances

Knowledge Alliances are EU-funded partnerships between higher education institutions and companies. Together they work on projects to promote creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by developing new approaches to teaching and learning.

The aim is:

  • to create new multi-disciplinary curricula
  • to promote transferable skills and entrepreneurship within and through education
  • to encourage a more systemic culture of cooperation between business and academia

Studies and reports

6th University-Business Forumpdf(19.02 Mb) (March 2015)

5th University-Business Forumpdf(9.74 Mb) (June 2013)

Thematic Forums

Innovation in higher educationpdf(6.16 Mb)

Measuring the impact of university-business cooperation

Examples of successful cooperation between academia and industrypdf(3.25 Mb)

Review of the state of university-business cooperation in Europepdf(3.22 Mb)

Individual reports on the state of University-Business Cooperation (2013) are available for the following countries:

Austria Ireland Spain
Belgium Italy Sweden
Finland Netherlands Turkey
France Poland United Kingdom
Germany Portugal