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EU-DRIVERS: European Drivers for a Regional Innovation Platform
Start date: Oct 1, 2009,

In its strategic plans for European cooperation on education and training (COM(2008)865), the Commission calls for improved tools and exchange of good practices between Member States to further reform education and training systems in order to meet the common challenges of skill deficits, employability and adequate response to labour needs and thus face global competition. By setting up a European platform as an instrument for exchange of expertise and concrete actions between the “triple helix” actors (i.e. universities, private sector companies and government) at the regional level, the overall aim of this initiative is to propose a concrete response to the EU Lisbon strategy to make Europe a knowledge-based economy, to the “modernisation agenda” and the “new skills for new jobs initiative”. The project is also a direct response to the priorities of the University-Business Forum. To reach into universities, the project will work with deans of faculties in universities as the middle layer management in institutions, with specific subject/discipline expertise, crucial for regional innovation and vital interface with economic actors in the region. Deans operate as key ‘boundary spanners’ between the academy and the outside world since they manage a complex set of internal relations – academic disciplines, resources (infrastructures, finances, interface structures) and reporting to senior management – and set the university’s strategic direction. They are also future university leaders who through the proposed regional innovation partnership projects (as leadership development programmes) will become imbued with a European perspective on university-business collaboration rooted in concrete experience at the regional level. The following objectives are foreseen to develop the European platform:• The creation of a regional innovation virtual community as an instrument for exchange of good practices bringing together universities (deans) and all their stakeholders.• New brand solutions for improved regional cooperation between universities, private-sector companies and regional governments in the form of pilot regional innovation partnership projects.• Communication and dissemination of good practices, recommendations to universities and their stakeholders through reports, conferences and a dialogue with EU authorities.The project will produce the following outputs:• A web-based European virtual community with a database of selected case material, relevant literature, examples of good practices and benchmarks.• Pilot regional innovation partnership projects with ten selected groups of three decision-makers (one dean, one private company and one local government representative) for tangible work during the project period on major structural regional projects contributing to a sustainable leadership development programme for those filling ‘boundary spanning’ roles in universities, business and government at the regional level (i.e. on lifelong learning, developing a demand-led agenda set by employers including entrepreneurship and skill components, knowledge transfer and innovation clusters, addressing strategy, leadership, governance and funding issues). • Annual reports on regional innovation, case studies and concrete examples of implementation of the knowledge triangle of education, research and innovation at the discipline level.• Communication and dissemination activities with annual conferences (mutual learning, exchange of good practices, recommendations for future actions, support from stronger to convergence regions). Beyond the project timeframe, the project will have a major impact on regional capacity building and human capital development, providing tangible tools to boost regional innovation.

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