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The state of university-business cooperation in Europe

This report presents the findings of the project ‘The State of University-Business Cooperation in Europe’. The project has been conducted between 2016 and 2017 by a consortium led by the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre (Germany) for the DG Education and Culture, European Commission. 

The aim of the project was to get a more profound, comprehensive and up to date understanding of the state of University Business Cooperation (UBC) in Europe, from the perspective of both the higher education institutions (HEIs) and the business sector. The project explored the state of play of UBC in different countries, examining the form and extent of main drivers and barriers for the different stakeholders, regulatory frameworks and the type and extent of existing measures supporting UBC at a national level. The main components of the project were a series of expert interviews with 23 recognised UBC experts, 52 good practise case studies, a major policy and indicator review as well as a major quantitative survey of stakeholders within both HEIs and business. 

A total of 14 UBC activities were identified in the fields of research, education, valorisation and management but the level of cooperation is low for most of these, providing many opportunities for improvement. Cooperation in research (particularly cooperation in R&D) is the most developed activity followed by education (particularly student mobility); whilst valorisation and management activities are far less common. UBC activities are correlated, meaning that once either an academic (as an individual) or business (as an organisation) cooperates in one activity, they are more likely to cooperate in others. As an example, an academic who cooperates with a business in research, is more likely to invite one of their business colleagues to give a guest lecture or supervise a thesis. Additionally, even a lack of cooperation with business does not mean that academics do not cooperate externally at all, because nearly 75% of the academics not cooperating with business, do cooperate with the government or other societal actors.

The report identifies barriers and drivers of UBC, the mechanisms supporting it, the context in which UBC occurs, the profile of the academic “collaborator” and of the “business collaborator” and ends with a vision for the future UBC in Europe, stressing its potential. For example, UBC in education offers potential for better aligning curricula and the skills of graduates with the labour market, improving employment pathways for students, and recruitment for employers as well as lifelong learning programmes for business.  Link to the report