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Support for the Research and Innovation Dimension of European Universities (Part I)

This grant will be awarded without call for proposals in line with Article 195(e) of the Financial Regulation, Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1046/2018 and Article 11(2) of the Rules for participation and dissemination in ""Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)"", Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013

The European Council has invited the Commission to strengthen strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions, encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty ‘European Universities’, consisting of bottom-up alliances of universities from across Europe, which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of universities in Europe. The Commission launched two pilot calls for proposals under the 2019 and 2020 Erasmus+ work programmes. The first pilot has resulted in the selection of 17 ‘European Universities’ in 2019[[European Universities, Erasmus+ Programme, Call for Proposals 2019, 2019-EAC/A03/2018]].

‘European Universities’ have an ambitious mandate aimed to trigger unprecedented levels of institutionalised cooperation between higher education institutions, making it systemic, structural and sustainable. More specifically 'European Universities' aim to establish: (i) a shared, integrated, long-term joint strategy for education with, where possible, links to research and innovation and society at large; (ii) a European higher education inter-university ‘campus’ offering curricula where students, doctoral candidates and staff can experience mobility at all study levels; (iii) European knowledge-creating teams addressing together societal challenges in a multi-disciplinary approach. ‘European Universities’ should act as models of good practice to further increase the quality, international competitiveness and attractiveness of European higher education. The Erasmus+ action supports higher education institutions in going beyond existing higher education cooperation models, and gradually achieving the long-term ambitious vision for 'European Universities'.

The purpose of the Horizon 2020 support is to contribute to the research and innovation dimension of the 17 ‘European Universities’, in line with their shared, integrated, long-term joint strategy and in synergy with their education dimension, using the aforementioned alliances as a testbed.

The support will focus on the following indicative list of modules in the field of research and innovation: (1) developing a common research and innovation agenda and action plan; (2) strengthening human capital, enabling balanced brain circulation and gender balance; (3) sharing research infrastructures and other resources; (4) reinforcing cooperation with non-academic actors, esp. academia-business cooperation; (5) mainstreaming of comprehensive Open Science practices; (6) involvement of citizens, civil society and public/cities authorities in research and innovation; (7) exploring joint structures across the European Universities on technical activities common to all ‘European Universities’, facilitating collaboration in activities, obstacles, and solutions that could be common to all alliances, as well as clustering activities to share best practices on research and innovation.

For all modules listed above, where appropriate, legal, regulatory, and financial barriers hampering cooperation among universities in research and innovation as well as recommendations on the way forward shall be identified.

The way forward with and within the different policy modules for transformation of universities remains the choice of the alliances. More detailed information, including examples of activities that can be supported within these different modules can be found in the accompanying guidance document[[]], which is published together with this work programme.

The 17 ‘European Universities’

  1. are invited to propose their institutional transformation agenda on the basis of this guidance and adapt it to the specific aspects of the universities involved; where appropriate, concrete research and innovation actions should be implemented in pilots or study cases;
  2. are strongly encouraged to identify additional funding sources to implement activities at national and European level.

Please note that this topic is part of the lump sum funding pilot scheme. Funding for grants awarded under this topic will take the form of lump sums as defined in Commission Decision C(2017)7151 of 27 October 2017[[]]. Details of the lump sum funding pilot scheme are published on the Funding and Tenders Portal[[]] together with the specific Model Grant Agreement for Lump Sums[[]] applicable.

The duration of the project should be up to three years.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be adequately addressed. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: Tangible progress towards the institutional transformation of universities (e.g. through pilots or study cases), next to the identification of a variety of successful models for modernisation/transformation at research and innovation level, in line with the shared, integrated and long-term joint strategy of the ‘European Universities’ and in synergy with their education dimension, towards the future of universities in Europe. Such models should facilitate future synergies between Horizon Europe and the Erasmus+ Programme.

Legal entities:

The beneficiaries of each of the 17 ‘European Universities’ consortia selected under the Erasmus+ 2019 work programme (C(2018)6572 of 11/10/2018), Call for proposals EAC/A03/2018 – 'European Universities' and listed in the Award Decision (Ares(2019)4049423 of 26/06/2019) with following reference numbers: 612247 (ARQUS), 612361 (EUTOPIA), 612442 (EDUC), 612461 (UNITE), 612468 (SEA-EU), 612489 (FORTHEM), 612511 (EPICUR), 612518 (EU4ART), 612521 (ECIUn), 612531 (EUGLOH), 612546 (CHARMEU), 612574 (YUFE), 612599 (CONEXUS), 612621 (4EU+), 612648 (CIVIS), 612661 (1EUROPE), 612663 (CIVICA).