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The objective of the research was to gather empirical evidence about efficient ways of organising the linkages and interfaces between higher education institutions (including research units) and private-sector firms in order to spur industrial innovation. One of the project's principal aims was to combine two dimensions which are often considered separately: firstly, the construction of the competences and the professionalities of the actors involved in innovation, and, secondly, transfers of knowledge from higher education to firms and vice versa. Five European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Portugal, UK) were selected in order to provide, at least by way of an initial hypothesis, national systems that were sufficiently disparate from the point of view of the resources "offered" to companies, be it in terms of institutions, organisations or actors. It was essential to include the United States. Indeed, the relations between higher education and companies which have evolved in that country are undoubtedly an international point of reference three sectors were chosen in each country as being representative of the new challenges emerging for the relationship between higher education and industry in key sectors where generic technologies are tending to develop, albeit in different ways. The investigations within more than 40 firms form the empirical basis of this project.

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