The Arqus European University Alliance aims to encourage entrepreneurship and creativity throughout the entire university community, including students, academic and administrative staff. The initiative stated, under the Arqus Action Line 5, the following main objectives:
- Stimulating entrepreneurial mind-set and creativity
- Reinforcing regional engagement
- Building on complementary areas of strength fostering cross-sectoral collaborations
As a first step in pursuing these objectives, the Alliance aims to develop a roadmap of mutually beneficial activities. The aim is to help strengthen the governance of the Alliance through the adoption of a shared and coherent approach to entrepreneurship among the Arqus universities.
All seven Arqus universities completed the HEInnovate self-assessment to obtain a good level of understanding of their current situation and help identify opportunities for further development. In total, 210 self-assessments were completed across the universities in the Alliance. The results were shared and discussed at university level pointing out some of the institutional strengths, weaknesses, priority and development areas.
An Arqus level action planning workshop was organised on the 14thJune 2021 with the aim to initiate the elaboration of a joint roadmap using the accumulative dataset coupled with the results of the individual institutional analysis. From among the Alliance member organisations, 42 people participated in the half-day long online workshop representing academic (teaching and research) and administrative staff, general management and leadership across the seven participating universities.
Key results of the analysed self-assessment completions were presented providing an overview of the overall situation across the dimensions of HEInnovate. The results illustrated a high degree of complementarity across the Alliance. Each university has at least one area of strength which pinpointed to possible areas of collaboration and highlighted the potential for transferability of good practices within the Alliance.
During the workshop, as a group exercise, the statements across the eight HEInnovate dimensions were prioritised resulting in an agreement of the most urgent and relevant questions. Importantly, the prioritisation highlighted areas where the members of the Alliance could help make a difference. The prioritisation highlighted the following areas for action:
Leadership and Governance
- Facilitate the development of mutual recognition / awareness of the Arqus Alliance’s activities
- Raise further awareness among the senior leadership of Arqus universities on the need for creating a shared framework for the implementation of the activities
Organisational Capacity: Funding, People and Incentives
- Bring entrepreneurship closer to the core mission of the HEIs
- Foster sharing good practices / exchanging information and knowledge around areas of strength
Entrepreneurial Teaching and Learning
- Make entrepreneurship courses more widely available and accessible
- Embed entrepreneurship courses across different disciplines including cross-disciplinary courses
Preparing and Supporting Entrepreneurs
- Identify role models that can help raise awareness within the respective institutions
- Learn from available best-practices from among the members of the Alliance on models and approaches to support entrepreneurs
Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration
- Focus on increasing the universities’ regional engagement and knowledge exchange with relevant stakeholders in the local and regional ecosystems
- Work with existing industrial networks and consider the role of the students to enhance the connections of academia with external stakeholders
- Use the HEInnovate self-assessment to set an internal project benchmark which can be monitored
- Set SMART indicators defining the outcome of the roadmap activities
Through group discussions, four priority areas were identified around which small working groups were formed to develop initial roadmaps for each area. The four selected areas were:
- Governance: Creating high-level recognition - getting the senior leadership of Arqus universities on board
- Organisational capacity – what are the existing good practices, how to identify and collect them?
- Entrepreneurial Teaching and Learning – how to create interdisciplinary courses?
- Knowledge exchange – how to enhance regional engagement and industry collaboration?
The working groups developed four individual action plans that were discussed in plenum. These roadmaps were then combined into a common draft roadmap of the Arqus Alliance as a takeaway from the workshop to help further develop their activities.
The HEInnovate self-assessment exercise carried out by the Arqus Alliance created a very rich picture highlighting numerous opportunities in helping the Alliance and partner universities to become more entrepreneurial. These opportunities were discussed by the diverse participant groups representing academic, administrative, management and students across the seven Alliance member universities. The draft roadmap developed points at some important actions both at the Alliance and the partner universities’ level. From the discussions it was also clear that there is a need to further develop the support of the leadership and to attach a reward and incentive structure to accelerate taking the next steps on the transition towards more entrepreneurial universities.
Prepared by Zsuzsa Javorka, Technopolis Group and Mikkel Trym, International Consultant, facilitators of the Arqus Alliance HEInnovate workshop