The final HEInnovate webinar of the year showcased the progress on the work carried out by four Erasmus+ funded Forward Looking Cooperation Projects. The Forward Looking Cooperation Projects (FLCPs) are large-scale projects that aim to identify, develop, test and/or assess innovative policy approaches that have the potential of becoming mainstreamed. Their main objective is to improve education and training systems, as well as bringing a substantial innovative effect in terms of methods and practices.
The webinar was moderated by Rebecca Allinson, a Managing Partner at Technopolis Group, and it attracted an international audience of 85 people, who engaged actively in the discussion by submitting questions during the webinar.
The panel discussion involved presentations and Q&A from representatives of four projects:
- Barbara Gabriel is the Deputy-Dean for Internationalisation at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Aveiro, and she is a researcher in the field of innovation, entrepreneurial teaching and learning, engineering education and nanotechnology. Barbara presented the work undertaken by Towards HEInnovate 2.0: From Assessment to Action project (THEI2.0).
- Nino Popkhadze, a Project Assistant representing WPZ Research, presented the structure and the results achieved so far by the BeyondScale project, which aims at creating a pan-European community of practice around entrepreneurial transformation for HEIs. Besides, Nino disclosed upcoming spin-off projects in the framework of BeyondScale.
- Rui Coutinho, the Executive Director of Porto Business School at the University of Porto presented the findings and the experiences of the RE-ACT project, which aims to exploit the potential of HEIs to participate in the design and implementation of RIS3, by linking the HEInnovate tool to RIS3 strategies (research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation).
- Jan Beseda, the Head of the National Centre for Distance Education in the Centre for Higher Education Studies, Czech Republic, presented the UASiMAP project, a self-reflection tool that focuses on the regional engagement of Universities of Applied Sciences.
Augmenting the HEInnovate experience – THEI2.0
The THEI2.0 project starts from HEInnovate, but as the title suggests, it offers a variety of materials and recommendations to turn the results from the HEInnovate self-assessment into actionable programmes and initiatives, in an effort to implement change and make HEIs more innovative and entrepreneurial.
Based on the scores from the self-assessment, institutions are assigned a specific profile and receive a corresponding set of cards, which include dedicated instructions, challenges and other elements of inspiration to adapt actions in the HEI’s specific reality. The cards are based on the eight HEInnovate dimensions and they have been developed to represent different levels of complexity and maturity within each dimension. For example, each dimension presents basic and advanced cards, with actions focusing on the short/medium and long term respectively.
The THEI2.0 also offers a fully interactive and immersive workshop with a group of experts that takes THEI2.0 users through all the steps of the journey: from assessing the HEI through the HEInnovate self-assessment, being assigned an institutional profile, to pitching a potential action plan. From the feedback collected during the pilot workshops that were organised, institutions gave account of very suitable profile assignment and follow-up actions.
The THEI2.0 project is also developing a Digital Badge system to recognise the efforts towards the mission and achievement of becoming a more entrepreneurial and innovative institution. To see the consortium implementing this project, click here.
Putting capacity building and peer learning at the core – BeyondScale
In an effort to drive entrepreneurial and innovative change in HEIs, BeyondScale aims to build a community of practice that promotes capacity building and peer learning. In order to do so, BeyondScale has been exploring a new workshop format: the HEInnovate Value Proposition Workshops.
Capacity building happens at the crossing of inbound and outbound activities of an HEI. Inbound activities support the HEI’s institutional development processes and organisational capacity (internal stakeholders), and outbound activities aim at strengthening the HEI’s wider regional and societal engagement (external stakeholders).
The HEInnovate Value Proposition Workshop integrates the eight HEInnovate dimensions with a value proposition canvas, a business tool that helps organisations better understand their customers as well as their needs, which ultimately leads to an optimised value proposition. In this case the “customers” are the HEIs’ internal and external stakeholders and value is found in stakeholder engagement.
The workshops organised so far by the project partners, both from the inbound and outbound point of view, showed trends of engagement in the following HEInnovate dimensions: Entrepreneurial teaching and learning, Knowledge exchange and collaboration, Digital transformation and capability and Preparing and supporting entrepreneurs.
The BeyondScale team is working on two additional developments (so-called spin-off projects) as well:
- DIGI Buddy, a digital platform that will match HEIs with partners to develop digital capacity building and peer learning. Thanks to the use of Inspirational fiches, HEIs and partners can take inspiration from typical challenges for each HEInnovate dimension, as well as explore what institutions have done to solve their challenges. Until the end of the BeyondScale project, it is intended to launch a DIGI Buddy prototype with the potential to develop into a more powerful platform.
- Entrepreneurial Teachers Network, a network that aims to support teachers with knowledge and skills, so they can be more equipped in training entrepreneurs.
The project includes 10 partners from 5 European countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Ireland, and Portugal. To see the consortium implementing this project, click here.
HEIs taking an active role in regional engagement – RE-ACT tool
RE-ACT is a self-reflection tool for HEIs who already are or wish to become key actors in their regions. The RE-ACT tool is based on HEInnovate, but it is a further development to help enhance HEIs’ participation in RIS3 strategies.
The goal of the project is to generate a positioning of HEIs as regional actors, underpinning collaborative processes among key stakeholders. In other words, a new joint positioning, where HEIs affirm themselves as regional actors and embrace this role at full potential.
In practice, RE-ACT aims to be seen as the HEInnovate for RIS3. The project team have focused on selected HEInnovate dimensions, but they have further developed them to better ailing the content to regional ecosystems. As Rui explained, HEInnovate is much more than a self-assessment as it already contains a broad set of resources, such as the EPIC tool. Such resources are complementary to HEInnovate and provide further materials for the users on dedicated topics. This is the vision for RE-ACT as well, to provide tailored assistance as part of the broader HEInnovate system.
Compared to HEInnovate, RE-ACT has a narrower focus on regional development, but promising feedback from users already shows that further insight into aspects of regional development is seen as very useful when it is brought together with institutional change roadmaps and linked to action plans. When asked to reflect on HEIs and regional stakeholders’ reaction to the tool, Rui shared that the tool is still under development, but that the journey so far has been enriching. There is no doubt about the importance of HEIs as regional stakeholders, but it is worth noting that the emphasis and perspective changes from region to region.
Rui concluded that findings from the project research and implementation so far suggest that RIS3 strategies will be more ambitious in the future, with HEIs more involved as “anchors of regional development”. To see the consortium working on this project, click here.
The specific case of Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) in regional development – UASiMAP
UASiMAP is a self-reflection tool that focuses on regional development from the perspectives of Universities of Applied Sciences. The project has the main objective to help institutions develop strategies that enhance their regional embeddedness and related action plans. UASiMAP provides examples of good practice addressing various topics, including capacity for regional actors, teaching and learning, user-inspired research and innovation. UASiMAP mostly targets internal stakeholders of HEIs to improve institutional processes based on evidence.
UASiMAP also intends to foster reflection on what regional engagement actions are already in place, how these are measured, what the incentives for regional engagement are and the impact achieved.
Taking inspiration from HEInnovate, UASiMAP offers data collection and data visualisation based on a 64 questions long questionnaire developed by the project team. The questions investigate the extent to which the UAS promote regional development. The HEInnovate dimensions are still present, with the addition of sub-dimensions. There is also an element of flexibility in the choice of the set of questions, as well as an option to choose which stakeholders should answer which set of questions.
Jan shared with the audience that the online tool will be launched in the near future and reflected on how with his team they found flexibility to be a crucial aspect in the process of creating the tool, along with learning with an open mind from other projects. To see the consortium carrying forward this project, click here.
 You can find more information on each of the tools in the Other initiatives section: https://heinnovate.eu/en/other-initiatives/erasmus-forward-looking-cooperation-projects