Input paper for the Thematic University Business Forum Developing Talents for Innovation-Based Economy

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1 Input paper for the Thematic University Business Forum Developing Talents for Innovation-Based Economy September 2015 Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania Introduction The European Commission established the EU Forum for University-Business Dialogue (UBForum) to advance and facilitate interaction between the academic and business worlds, with the emphasis on education. Education is a key competent of knowledge creation. Higher education institutions are not only active in technology, research and development, but also educate and develop highly skilled individuals. It is people who circulate knowledge and create businesses. Creative and innovative people find ways to increase the competitiveness and economic growth of organisations they work for and the countries in which they function. Therefore, understanding and promoting education links with businesses is crucial for European competitiveness. The Forum, as a mechanism for dialogue between academia and industry, provides face-to-face opportunities for discussion, networking, mutual learning and the illustration of good examples. 1 It is part of wider efforts to support the Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe 2 and has a key role in supporting the implementation of Europe The EU s growth strategy Europe 2020 presents a clear message: to stay competitive, Europe must invest in people, their ability to innovate and adapt to change. The Juncker Agenda also reaffirms the important role of education, and in particular higher education, through its direct support for projects and investments in this key area. 3 This Thematic UBForum entitled Developing Talents for Innovation-Based Economy is addressing the challenge of bridging the gap between Higher Education and Business by exploring themes such as: What makes universities attractive to business partners and vice versa? and What environment best facilitates sustained long-term partnerships? The Thematic Forum features a mix of keynotes, panel discussions and presentations of inspirational examples organised around the following topics: Discovering and raising the talent generation in Europe Preparing the ground for cooperation between HEI and Business Turning knowledge into economic sustainability Making new knowledge work for business and society Collaborating on real business issues Rethinking the patterns of HEI and business cooperation Learning from the Best: Weaving practical learning into study programmes The Thematic UBForum is co-organised in partnership with the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science, the Lithuanian Rectors Conference and the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists. 1 A new partnership for the modernisation of universities: the EU Forum for University Business Dialogue: Brussels, COM(2009) 158 final 2 Delivering on the Modernisation Agenda for Universities: Education, Research and Innovation COM (2006) 208 final 3 A Task Force has been set up by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), together with the Member States, to look into potential barriers to investments and screen potential projects 1

2 Innovation ecosystem in Lithuania For the past years in the Innovation Union Scoreboard Lithuania has appeared as a Moderate Innovator. It is however the only country that managed to improve its position from a Modest Innovator to a Moderate Innovator over the past years. 4 Lithuania s strengths are in the high numbers of new graduates with tertiary education 5 and in the share of its public research sector. It still lags behind the leading innovation nations in terms of business investment in R&D, number of knowledge-intensive companies, number of new doctoral graduates and attractiveness of research careers. 6 In addition, there is a clear need to improve the links between education, research and the private sector, and to close the gap with the EU average on various other indicators. The lack of openness of the system and the low levels of inward and outward mobility are major challenges for the country. Nevertheless, based on the study on the Cooperation between Higher Education Institutions and Public and Private Organisations in Europe, 7 Lithuania had the overall highest total rating for the extent of university-business collaboration (UBC) for academics. Furthermore, it occupied the 7 th position with regards to the university-business cooperation among EU Member states. In 2010 Lithuania approved its first Innovation Strategy for the period. The strategy set clear ambitions to create a favourable environment for entrepreneurship and innovation and to build competitiveness. The key focus was put on growth-enhancing sectors as the cornerstones of the national vision to create a knowledge-based economy. In the same year, the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) was established. The Agency s main objectives are to foster business and science cooperation and to create a friendly environment for business needs and innovation. 8 These objectives are prominently showcased in MITA s project portfolio. The targeted efforts to gradually strengthen the innovation system in Lithuania started with the steps to remove the research community s isolation from the private sector. Various initiatives were put in place, mobilising state resources to meet existing challenges in fostering university-business links. In preparation for the EU Structural Funds programming period, Lithuania developed its strategy for smart specialisation 9 covering a range of priority areas. Due to its geographical proximity, Lithuania is also active in the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy (BSR). 10 The country participated in the BSR Stars programme, a flagship initiative of the strategy aimed at linking strong research environments, clusters and SME networks, and creating globally-leading innovation partnerships. An example of successful international cooperation was the StarDust project, which focused on improving the international commercialisation of research and development results, strengthening clusters and creating SME networks. One of the project s highlights was the transfer of the Finnish DEMOLA 11 model a collaborative open innovation platform where students come up with the solutions for real life problems within companies to Lithuania, Sweden and Latvia. 4 Note: In the 2011 European Innovation Scoreboard, the country is still categorised as modest innovator, while in the 2013 edition it is already categorised as moderate innovator, and has kept its position since 5 European Commission, 2014: Education and Training Monitor 2014 Lithuania, 6 Indicators from the Innovation Union Scoreboard, 7 Part of the DG Education and Culture Study on Cooperation between Higher Education Institutions and Public and Private Organisations in Europe (2011), 8 Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) 9 Pasiūlymai dėl Lietuvos sumanios specializacijos prioritetinių krypčių. The strategy has six priority areas: energy and sustainable environment; health technologies and biotechnologies, agricultural innovation and food technologies, new production processes, materials and technologies; transport, logistic and information and communication technologies, and inclusive and creative society. 10 The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, Brussels, COM(2012) 128 final 11 BSR Stars: BSR Stars Demola, 2

3 Higher Education system in Lithuania Initiatives also address the challenges of the Lithuanian higher education system from the education side. The Lithuanian Education Strategy has identified that the growing disparity between the tertiary curriculum and the needs of the labour market is an increasing concern. The strategy also acknowledges the relevance between the labour market and higher education: the level of universitybusiness cooperation is counted among the indicators demonstrating the development of educational culture in Lithuania. The main goals of the Lithuanian Education Strategy for linked to innovation are to reach a critical mass of pedagogic communities consisting of professional teachers and lecturers constantly seeking development, and to create an educational culture based on the practices of analysis and selfassessment. The Lithuanian secondary education system also shows innovative elements. For example two secondary schools were awarded the National Career Counselling Awards for their innovative ideas, courage to implement novel activities and willingness to share good practice. Concepts of innovation, entrepreneurship and cooperation are on a positive track for further development in Lithuania, as showcased by the numerous initiatives and strategic achievements described above; however, challenges still remain. University-Business Cooperation in Europe Key messages from the past UBForums The challenges outlined in the brief overview on the recent development path of the Lithuanian innovation system are not unique. Many countries face questions about how to change and adapt their higher education systems to respond to the needs of the 21 st century. Highly skilled, talented individuals are a key component of a well functioning innovation system and higher education provides many of the mechanisms for creating such people. Higher education cannot generate all the necessary talent in isolation, as the skills acquired must match with the needs of business and the wider society. This situation calls for a closer and more structured partnership between higher education and industry. This includes collaboration across different disciplines and sectors of the economy, encouraging multidisciplinary ecosystems, from which new ideas can emerge for research, education and business. If Europe is to progress beyond the more traditional student traineeships and collaborative research projects, many types of stakeholders need to be involved in these structured partnerships. With terms like smart society and innovation-based economy, successful collaboration and cooperation will be characterised by this wider involvement and systemic, long-term partnerships. 14 Discussions during the past UBForums reflect the shift in the understanding of the role and nature of relationships across stakeholders. Some of the main topics of discussion and key messages of past Forums include: 15 Implementation and impact measurement: The role of higher education and business cooperation in the knowledge economy and in economic recovery in crucial; there is however a need for a common understanding among different cultures. Measuring the different types of activities undertaken by HEIs is highly important, but assessing the outputs of university-business collaboration is really difficult and the dissemination of good practices is needed. Governance in higher education: There are changes in the recognition of the importance of the third mission and the need for adaptability, and measures of autonomy to facilitate resilience in fast- 12 Seimas of the Repulbic of Lithuania, 2013: Lithuanian Education Strategy , 13 The National Career Counselling Awards Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovakia 14 Thematic Forum Berlin, 2014: University-Business Cooperation: Driving Competitiveness, Employability and Prosperity a Forum, and 15 Based on various Technopolis UBForum reports and The University-Business Forum, A trends report ,

4 changing conditions are needed. Understanding and mitigating competing priorities are additional tasks for HEIs to address. Curriculum and skills development: There is a need for a better fit between course content and the needs of the economy. This is best achieved through collaboration. Transferable and horizontal skills are important components which help to improve employability. These are delivered in many ways including through the use of innovative pedagogies. Entrepreneurship and developing an entrepreneurial mindset: The words entrepreneur, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial, are all used in many ways by higher education institutions. At one level, it is used to describe course delivery, the development of the entrepreneurial mindset through learning by doing, for example. There is also the application of the words in relation to the setting up of a new business. Finally, bringing all aspects of entrepreneurship together, there is the entrepreneurial university, one which adapts its approach not only to survive, but to thrive in the future. Mobility: Mobility is of great value to students, academics and industry. It helps to develop and enhance understanding of the two worlds and also provides new skills and competences to those involved in a period of mobility. Mobility can also lead to new forms and models of cooperation. Therefore, mobility should be promoted, recognised and rewarded. The relationship between regions, cities and higher education institutions: As university-business cooperation matures, new more complex models of partnerships emerge. In particular, partnerships which support regional economic growth. Higher education institutions are important components of regional innovation systems, in both fast- and slow-growing economies. The role can shift depending on the needs of the cities and regions, from a social facilitator, through a creator of new companies, to a deliverer of lifelong learning. These topics are all highly relevant and are reoccurring themes of discussion. Many of the challenges posed are still to be solved. The Thematic Forum in Lithuania provides the opportunity to present and discuss the topics of building and developing strategic partnerships for mutual benefits through rethinking the culture of HEI and business cooperation, and the role of higher education in driving innovation through talent development. SESSION I: Turning knowledge into economic sustainability Back in 2013 the High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education 16 highlighted the importance of promoting and developing cooperation between higher education and business as a core element of the EU s Agenda for the Modernisation of Higher Education. It recommended that the Member States, in partnership with the regions, prioritise, in their Partnership Agreements under the Structural Funds, initiatives to support the development of pedagogical skills, the design and implementation of programmes relevant to social and labour market needs, and the strengthening of partnerships between higher education, business and the research sector. Universities are an integral and important part of the skills and innovation supply chain to businesses. They educate the new workforce as well as providing opportunities for lifelong learning to the already employed. They produce new knowledge that can be turned into ideas with commercial potential, which can in return be either developed internally or together (or solely) with the private sector. In all cases they generate value to the national, European and, indeed, global economies. However, this supply chain is multidimensional. For it to be sustainable over the long term and have quality and strength, it has to be based on strong trust-based collaboration and mutual understanding between universities and businesses. Session I takes up these ideas through the following topics of discussion: 16 High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education (2013) Improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe s higher education institutions. European Commission 4

5 Contribution of business and higher education to sustainable economic growth Employment of new knowledge both in the academic and business environments Contribution of business and private sector and their cooperation to the regional development A number of examples of university-business cooperation will be presented to illustrate these themes. For example, the UK s Bentley Systems and Lithuania s Vilnius Gediminas Technical University joined forces in the field of digital construction. The company has decided to establish a Building Information Modelling (BIM) Academy in Lithuania and chose VGTU to be responsible for the activities of the Academy in the Baltic States. Another example is the GAIA Program from Spain. The GAIA Program, which has been running successfully by the Foundación Universidad Empresa since 2007, is aimed at enhancing graduate employability. As part of the programme, graduates are placed from different degree programmes in companies with a very diverse sectoral background, covering both high- and low(er)-tech sectors. The programme has engaged over 230 companies in collaborative activities. There are many ways in which university-business collaboration can contribute to sustainable economic growth. When and what can actually be expected from collaborations between businesses and universities? What should be the focus of such collaborations: job creation or knowledge creation? How can all the possible outputs of transferring knowledge into economic sustainability through university-business collaboration be captured? Does the nature of available funding (e.g. Structural Funds) dictate the range of indicators to be used? Is there a need for new models for university-business cooperation or are we on the right track? SESSION II: Making new knowledge work for business and society Innovation is key to economic growth and social progress, and successful solutions to societal challenges require the engagement of all types of stakeholders including higher education institutions, companies, entrepreneurs and investors. Individual organisations or discipline-centred approaches cannot guarantee robust results. This puts even more emphasis on the importance of collaborative, multidisciplinary activities across the borders and on systematic approaches. The prosperity of regional economies and ecosystems as well as the development of new educational models and approaches increasingly depends on the development of different forms of university and business interactions. Here, universities play a substantial role in maintaining knowledge flows. They contribute to the sustainability of innovation ecosystems, particularly through the flow of university graduates into the market as well as through the flow of new knowledge created by university-based research, into the private sector and society. While the concept of creating successful innovation ecosystems and ways of putting various players of the innovation ecosystem together have been known and present on the innovation policy agendas across Europe for a long time, the question How to make it happen? is still being asked. This session highlights: Inclusion of the knowledge generated in research to education, especially addressing the elements of entrepreneurial education Application of new knowledge created both in the academic and business environments Ways for the collaboration between universities, industry and the public sector to drive a world class innovation system As part of this session, there is an opportunity to visit Santaka and Nemunas Valleys. Between 2007 and 2013 Lithuanian authorities used EU Structural Funds to improve the country s R&D infrastructure. In 2008 the Government of the Republic of Lithuania approved five integrated science, studies and business centres or Valleys : Sunrise and Santara in Vilnius, Santaka and Nemunas in Kaunas, and Marine in 5

6 Klaipeda. These were set up to foster and drive forward university-business cooperation in Lithuania and therefore alongside leading academic institutions actively involve private sector partners. Santaka Valley is led by the Kaunas University of Technology, the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and the Lithuanian Energy Institute. The main research and innovation areas of this Valley include sustainable chemistry (incl. biopharmacy), mechatronics and related electronics technology, future energy (incl. environmental engineering), and ICT. Valley Nemunas involves four research and education institutions the Aleksandras Stulginskis University, the Lithuanian University of Life Sciences (Veterinary Academy), the Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, and Kaunas University of Technology. Key research and innovation areas of this Valley include agro-biotechnology, bio-energy and forestry, food technologies, safety, and wellness. The roles of different stakeholders in an innovation ecosystem are highly dependent on the development phases and changing priorities. Should universities be the lead stakeholders in an innovation ecosystem, irrespective of the development stages, or should other stakeholders take the lead as required? How important is the entrepreneurial element of the university in the development of a prospering innovation ecosystem? Is there a need for universities to further adopt / specialise their education offer in line with the regional priorities? How can such efforts be harmonised with the intentions of increased internationalisation? SESSION III: Collaborating on real-life business issues The era of teaching students just as a way to transfer knowledge and provide skills for life is gone. Business environment requires much greater agility and flexibility than before, which changes the nature of its relationship with the education market, including higher education institutions. The questions of how to develop a skilled workforce with competitive advantage and how to adjust to changes in the labour market is on the agenda of many higher education institutions. The questions prompt HEIs to start thinking more about the nature, content and delivery of their educational offer. Words like multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, problem-solving, innovative pedagogies, real life cases, and transversal and horizontal skills are becoming more common in the vocabulary of higher education institutions as they adapt their offers to address the needs of businesses and innovation. The European Commission s Agenda for New Skills and Jobs identifies the value of ventures and networks between business and higher educational establishments to address new skill requirements and labour market needs. 17 The Knowledge Alliances is an initiative of the European Commission to create transnational, structured and result-driven projects between higher education and business. Knowledge Alliances are open to any discipline, sector and to cross-sectoral cooperation 18 and provide both shortand long-term benefits to all the stakeholders involved. The applicability and relevance of the initiative has been proven by the significant interest generated in the target community, which resulted in the initiative being moved from the pilot stage in 2011 and 2012, to embedding the initiative in the Lifelong Learning Programme in 2013 and as part of Erasmus+ from There are also many other initiatives, such as those addressing the skill needs of the labour market, promoting entrepreneurship and collaboration with the ultimate objective of providing increased graduate employability, up-skilling the work force, and fostering knowledge exchange, which are present at national level as well. 17 European Commission (2010) An Agenda for new skills and jobs: A European contribution towards full employment. Com(2010)682 Final. 18 EC, 2014: Erasmus+Programme Guide, 6

7 This session highlights: How education programmes are crucial in supporting the changing mindsets needed to boost multidisciplinary partnerships and new idea generation The role of cross disciplinary approaches in supporting student innovation and entrepreneurship The importance of changing silo mentalities and value creation through increased interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity in education and research The examples presented during this session focus on approaches implemented to increase crossdisciplinarity within the higher education environment. A case from Lithuania highlights the experience of a leading life sciences company, Thermo Fisher Scientific. A case from Denmark, the Technical University of Denmark s (DTU) Skylab introduces the experiences of a cross-disciplinary hub and community for student innovation and entrepreneurship. What can HEIs do to embed more soft skills into study programmes? Does this have to mean a tradeoff against the professional and field-specific skills? How can multidisciplinarity and problem-solving-centred, real-life-case-based learning contribute to setting up and developing university-business cooperation? How can educational programmes capitalise on the new opportunities presented by universitybusiness cooperation? Rethinking the patterns of HEI and business cooperation The second day of the UBForum provides an opportunity to sum up the presentations, discussions and conclusions of day one, with feedback from the rapporteurs on the key issues arising from the three sessions. The rapporteurs will reflect on how stakeholders can come together to rethink the culture of HEI and business cooperation. The panel discussions on day two provide cases and reflections on how fruitful cooperation is established, what mechanisms are involved and what motivates both sides to invest in new knowledge, education and innovation. There are many ways in which companies and higher education institutions can work together, but there are also barriers to effective collaborative working. Horizontal and networked collaboration, across different disciplines and stakeholders can create real value but also needs to be managed in a way that all stakeholders understand what they get out of it from their own perspective. This may involve higher education institutions and companies rethinking their own organisation models in order to embed new practices. This can be in relation to professionalising management, changing human resource models, rethinking skills needs, redesigning curricula and new approaches to marketing and communication. What are the new approaches in university-business cooperation? Which approaches have proved to be the most successful and why? How do organisations deal with the increasingly complex relationships and business models which drive cooperation? What are the major barriers to collaborative networking and relationship building, and how have these been overcome? What are the good examples where higher education institutions have improved their whole system performance through collaboration and cooperation with business? 7

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