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Improving university, industry and society interfaces to boost the throughput capacity of Europe's innovation stakeholders

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Science2Society (Improving university, industry and society interfaces to boost the throughput capacity of Europe's innovation stakeholders)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28

A highly renowned consortium worked on a major project to improve innovation processes and their effectiveness in society. Titled ‘Science2Society’, the EU-funded project assessed the mechanisms through which universities, research organisations, society and industry collaborate to create value. Value in terms of:
• sparking new ideas
• differentiating new products and services
• captured benefits of publicly funded research
• appealing new talent
• winning solutions for todays’ societal challenges

The consortium consists of 18 participating organisations which are based in seven European countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The 3-year project directly engaged with numerous universities and research organisations, industries and small businesses across Europe.

Accelerating Innovation: The overall mission of Science2Society is to understand and improve the efficiency of the European innovation system and the ways it creates new businesses, turns technology into products and services, attracts financing and generally creates value from academic research.
The study focused on key schemes currently used to encourage use of innovation. These include inter alia co-creation of products in a virtual ‘ideas laboratory’, co-location of industry laboratories in universities as well as coaching and training provided by universities to SMEs. To optimise for instance such coaching and training, the current typical knowledge transfer process was mapped, the steps and tasks that appeared the most problematic were identified, possible solutions explored and guidelines on how to streamline University-SME knowledge transfer created.

Outrun innovation systems outside Europe: More specific objectives include compiling an easily accessible knowledge database of university / industry / society interface schemes suitable for today’s more open environment; the creation of a clear and proven set of guidelines and tools; and developing a sustainable learning programme for continued replication of the best schemes. This last objective has a critical mass of European stakeholders and therefore has a substantial impact throughout Europe.

Shaping the European Research Arena: Backed with a total budget of € 2.85M (2016-18), Science2Society not only collected knowledge and models; it deeply and innovatively analysed how these can be improved (using advanced methods pioneered in business practice such as process re-engineering, design thinking and change management) and ran substantial experiments to validate the created optimized interfacing schemes.
Science2Society disseminated its results throughout Europe, aiming to successfully replicate the best university / industry / society collaboration programmes to a large number of stakeholders.

Joint forces for “I to P” – Innovation to Product: The project brings together both practitioners and, as method and system experts, universities, industries, research and technology organizations and SMEs. The project is endorsed by large (EU-level) networks of peers and the innovation ecosystem.
A work plan with 5 integrated work packages was set up empowered by the 7 Science2Society Pilots which run as backbone activity throughout the whole project. Work in the first period focused on data collection (WP1) and Pilot development (WP3), with supportive developments in modeling (WP2) and stakeholder engagement, dissemination and replication (WP4). Work in the second period focused on running the 4 Pilots within WP3 and feeding in lessons learned to WP2 for modeling and WP4 for dissemination.

- WP1 (Collection and analysis of models, programmes and tools) is dedicated to a collection and analysis of existing knowledge, experiences, methods and (ICT-support) tools of state-of-the-art and emerging approaches of cooperation between university, industry and research organisations in the field of open innovation. The knowhow gathered is represented in a way that provides direct added value for stakeholders. That’s why it is compiled, organised and made public online in an easily accessible way and also served for the seven innovation Pilots.

- WP2 (Conceptualisation of guidelines and programmes) has as main objectives the presentation, discussion and sharing of Open Innovation concepts related to co-creation, co-location, collaboration and Science 2.0 and one-to-one discussions with the seven pilots to support the embedding of Open Innovation and Science 2.0 principles into the design. The process is interactive and iterative and are based on a constant exchange with the seven pilots and the leaders of WP3 and WP1. WP2 set up the instruments to structure and analyse the knowledge collected.

- WP3 (Experimentation and validation in UIS interface scheme pilots) aims at piloting the WP2 schemes. The UIS interfaces were applied to concrete cases of university-industry-society cooperation tailoring and adapting their building blocks to different contexts, sectors and applications. The overall objectives of this work package are to i) validate the UIS interface schemes and their application to improve blueprints created in WP2 and ii) validate the policy recommendations in support of the UIS interface schemes. This work package is structured into three phases, the detailed design of the seven pre-identified USI interface schemes, their implementation into operation and the subsequent evaluation.

- WP4 (Stakeholder engagement, dissemination and replication) steers the activities with third party interaction. As such, a communication strategy with an array of tools for external dissemination and communication of the project and its results has been arranged. This includes a project website, a project video, social media accounts, project leaflets, project presentations, etc. and a set of internal project tracking tools. Furthermore, an exploitation strategy has been drafted for the project results to ensure sustainability towards, a.o. a Learning and Implementation Alliance (LIA).

- WP5 (Project management) deals with the overall project management.
For each of 7 UIS interface schemes the way the UIS interface schemes allows the involved actors to do better was highlighted as follows:
1. 'Co-creation' will increase the match of future needs of society and research --> maximising the relevancy and practical applicability of the latter.
2. 'Co-location' will improve the close collaboration through symbiosis of industry and research --> maximising alignment of interests thus applicability of research.
3. 'Collaborative consortia' will boost the effectiveness of collaborative R&D&I projects --> maximising efficacy, efficiency, and performance of initiatives.
4. ‘Inter-sectorial mobility' will intensify the knowledge transfer resulting from inter-sectorial mobility --> maximising cross-pollination between sectors and out of the box thinking.
5. 'Collaboration through Big Data' will leverage the use of big data and novel open science approaches --> maximising utility of new ICTs in research
6. 'Knowledge transfer to SMEs' will enhance the potential of both sporadic and continued collaboration between SMEs and universities --> maximising the rate of successful implementation of proposed solutions.
7. 'Online Technology Marketplace' will streamline technology transfer and licensing --> maximising the actual rate of successful application of research results (e.g. patents) into industry.