EIT HEI Initiative: Summary of main take-aways from the 2nd Co-Creation Workshop on IVAP Implementation

On 7-8-9 June 2022, the EIT HEI Initiative organised the second Co-Creation Workshop on IVAP Implementation. EIT Food in cooperation with EIT Climate were responsible for the organisation of the  Workshop. The aim of this 3-days workshop was to allow for a space where EIT’s HEI Initiative  projects could discuss the most pressing issues related to the challenges they are facing while also creating a space for exchange and community-building. 

The event was designed to support projects through the provision of technical interventions based on the IVAP implementation needs and requests identified as the ones which have experienced the least  relevant change among EIT’s HEI Initiative projects so far. To ensure relevance, the workshop structure was built around two domains which have experienced less change (Domain 2- Strengthening partnerships (knowledge transfer triangle) and Domain 3- Contributing to developing Innovations and businesses). Each session, two on domain 2 and one on domain 3, started with a scene setting for the domain. Day 1 and 3, followed with a roundtable with three experts and breakout room discussions and finalised by reporting the lessons from the breakout rooms and the summary of the day. The roundtables with experts in HEI innovation and entrepreneurship provided thought leadership and insights to inspire and provoke discussion. Breakout room discussions in each session allowed for non-judgmental spaces  where projects were able to engage in open dialogue, sharing experiences, constraints, and ideas for  overcoming current obstacles. Each session was closed by reflections from Dr Maarten van der Kamp,  Director of Education for EIT Food. Day 2 tested a more hands-on approach: after the initial scenesetting run by the EIT Climate-KIC learning programmes orchestrator Pamela Ragazzi, a specific tool to  deepen the analysis of the innovation Ecosystem was presented and tested by participants divided by  geographic area and supported by coaches from EIT Climate-KIC partner Agenzia per l’Energia e lo  Sviluppo Sostenibile (AESS) and the Pool of EIT Climate-KIC coaches, more examples and remarks from  JRC were shared before the closure of the workshop.

Day 1 Session 1 DOMAIN 2 – Strengthening partnerships (knowledge triangle integration) 

Roundtable with experts about establishing new collaborations and enhancing the nature, content and types of collaborations with external partners, including businesses, research organisations, governmental bodies, NGOs and other societal partners: John Edwards, Secretary-General of EURASHE (the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education) and Senior Advisor at PEEP (Policy  Experimentation & Evaluation Platform); Sannie Fisker, Head of Scientific Advice and Group Co-leader of Policy and Consultancy, Centre for Technology Entrepreneurship, Technical university of Denmark and Grace Van Den Boogaard, Career Centre Manager at EIT Innoenergy.

John Edwards gave a presentation on how to build successful regional partnerships. He suggested matching the potential of higher education institutions with the innovation ecosystem of the region. Moreover, this could help HEI projects to get more involved in Smart Specialisation strategies. In addition, he highlighted some short-term actions to build partnerships (win-win), such as sharing of infrastructures between academic institutions and businesses.

Sannie Fisker presented an example of working across the knowledge triangle in Denmark. She introduced the Open Entrepreneurship, a Danish initiative established in 2017 at the Technical University of Denmark and now spanning all universities in Denmark. This initiative aims at establishing more and better sustainable start-ups from university research. The core of Open Entrepreneurship is to facilitate the meeting between researchers from Danish universities and external experienced entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs and the journey from idea to start-up. This initiative consists of three main components: business unit managers, researchers, and external entrepreneurs. Grace Van Den Boogaard gave a presentation about the EIT Innoenergy career impact challenges as an insightful example to connect the knowledge triangle and create partnerships. EIT Innoenergy career impact challenges is a specialised 12-month coaching programme that helps develop students with great ideas, products and solutions that make a real difference to the market. This initiative connects students with companies such as McKinsey Energy Insights, Siemens Energy, ENEL, EDPR, E.ON, and EIT InnoEnergy start-ups. Assembled into teams based on their profiles and working closely with big industry players, the students have the opportunity to put their skills to the test to tackle real-life industry challenges and to connect with some of the most influential industrial player’s in Europe.

Breakout rooms: Discussions revolved around the topic of the importance of strengthening partnerships to keep universities and business communities as close as possible and find synergies that can benefit society. Another important topic of the discussion was on solutions to close the gap between academia and industry as well as the key factors to strengthen partnerships. In addition, the creation of strong relationships and collaborations with the EIT KICs and HEI projects was discussed. 

Key messages of the session: The most important areas for actions highlighted during the session were the following: 

− Understanding the different structures, frameworks and cultures in which academia and industry operate (e.g. the knowledge triangle may have different meaning and interpretation to different actors) plays a role when building partnerships.

− Setting up a common goal and trust between the partners is key for a successful partnership.

− Personal relationships between researchers and businesses are important drivers to build partnerships. Moreover, having a strategy that is not only based on personal relationships is important  to be engaged in partnerships.

− Using the regional innovation ecosystem may be the first point of access to build a partnership.

− HEI projects could benefit by sharing good practices (e.g., understanding what other KIC 

projects are doing; hearing experiences of KICs and their projects).

Day 2 Session 2 DOMAIN 2 – Strengthening partnerships (knowledge triangle integration) – Innovation Ecosystem Workshop 

Workshop with experts focus on ecosystem analysis with the use of the Visual Toolbox for System Innovation: Fernando Diaz Lopez, head or research strategy, partnerships, and programmes and the director of the Transitions Hub at EIT Climate-KIC; Gianluca Avella, project manager, trainer and coach at AESS (Italy); Marisa Elizundia, CEO and Founder of Live Your Brand Consultancy; Karolina DaszynskaZygadl, learning and business coach working as an academic in the field of corporate finance and sustainability; Liga Efeja-Libiete, facilitator, learningdesigner, trainer and consultant who works to strengthen people, processes and organisations; Cristian Matti, Policy Analyst at the Competence Centre on Foresight of the Joint Research Centre.

Fernando Diaz Lopez presented the Transitions Hub, the EIT Climate-KIC science-policy lab. Transitions Hub enables interactions with key EU organisations and external experts in key climate innovation policy areas.Ithas a focus on applied policy research and capacity building around sustainability transitions & system innovation, EU/regional policy, eco-innovation and circular economy.

Gianluca Avella introduced the concept of systems innovation deeply analysing: why we need to innovate in a systematic way; what is the systems innovation framework and what process we have to follow to address systems innovation; what are the available tools for systems innovation.With the support of the coaches Marisa Elizundia, Karolina Daszynska-Zygadl, and Liga Efeja-Libiete, Gianluca Avella presented the Visual Toolbox for System Innovation keeping a specific focus on the tool The context map used during the interactive breakout session.

Cristian Matti closed the Day 2 session with a presentation focused on how to address transformative change through Co-creation for Policy Processes. After setting the scene on Addressing transformative change and the principles for co-creation for Policy, the speaker deepened some examples that presented Policy co- creation in the Western Balkans (from system mapping to innovation portfolios), Strategies in EU-Africa Mobility Transition, Regional innovation for low-carbon economy in the context of Smart Specialization Strategy (RIS3) and Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS) among others that helped to contextualize and add the mid- & long-term perspective to the tool testedIn the previous session in the bigger picture of the analysis of innovation ecosystems.

Breakout rooms: the workshop part was very interactive and allowed participants to gain an insight on EIT Climate-KIC’s Visual Toolbox for System Innovation; get to know how to apply a systems innovation approach to a challenge; practice one of the tools – The context map – following the below given instructions: 

  • STEP 1. The starting point – Before starting with the canvas, you need to agree on a clear statement for your challenge. This is what we propose: “How can we improve the effectiveness of innovation frameworks and partnerships in our geography?” You will be considering what happens in your national ecosystem. 
  • STEP 2. Innovation initiatives – Focus on “how we can improve our innovation frameworks”. You may want to consider, for example, how partnerships are concerted and managed, how funds are applied for and reported, the duration of projects and experiments and how their impact is measured. How can we improve the effectiveness of innovation partnerships? Individually, identify projects, experiments and/or specific features that you consider new to the institutional framework. Use one sticky note for each idea and put them on the canvas. Is your project likely to be one of these innovations? If that is the case add it on a new sticky note and put it on the arrow. When explaining them to the group, new ideas can emerge. 
  • STEP 3. Status quo – Identify elements for the four columns of the building: Regulations, Institutions, Industrial Infrastructures and Knowledge. Work individually for 10 minutes identifying as many elements as you can and then start a group discussion as you put your ideas on the canvas. REGULATIONS: What current regulations (including competition norms, trading, financial regulation, etc) establish the rules for the status quo performance. INSTITUTIONS: What current players in your system affect how the system works. What is the current institutional interplay? INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURES: Similarly, the industrial infrastructures in the system affect the way innovation is planned and managed. Some industries are capable more than others of setting up a dialogue with academia or other actors, applying to calls. In some cases specific intermediary organisations can intervene; in some others, industry does not respond at all. KNOWLEDGE: How is knowledge currently “managed” and shared among organisations? Within which frameworks can it be shared? How does this influence the way innovation is intended? 
  • STEP 4. Economic and social trends – Economic and social trends and factors are two of the most powerful elements within the status quo. They both pervade the other components of the system becoming key drivers for its dynamics. Identify as many relevant factors as possible. ECONOMIC: Factors such as access to credit, inflation, economic growth, expected ROI, etc. as well as new business models…, try to be as specific as possible in the context of the identified challenge. SOCIAL: factors such as social perception of technologies, lifestyle trends, customer habits and assumptions, etc can polarize the way innovation is managed, try to be as specific as possible. 
  • STEP 5. The broader context – The broader context will include all those external factors that directly or indirectly put pressure on the system. Here you may depict all those exogenous, autonomous, long-term trends that influence the status quo: e.g. climate change, economic growth or recession, increasing/decreasing prices, pandemics, wars, etc.

STEP 6. Debrief – After filling out the canvas, reflect on the big picture that has arisen and try to come up with the main drivers and barriers for your challenge. Can you see strategies to get around the barriers and harness the potential opportunities? Is the broader context a constraint or a driver? The Miro board used during the Innovation Ecosystem Workshop is available at this link.

Members of the PROMETHEUS core team were highly active within the breakout sessions during the first to days,highlighting the project’s progress and more specifically the PROMETHEUS International Startup Competition and 2nd Information Day. , also providing input on 

Key messages of the session: The most important areas for actions highlighted during the session were the following: in order to generate innovation, a deep understanding of the innovation ecosystem is needed, however the process requires time.In addition, it was possible to stress how the HEI initiative projects have to been seen in the wider context in which they operate made not only by the institutions, regulations and infrastructures, but is also influenced by socio-economic factors; The HEI initiative projects bring their contribution that will have an impact on the current status, particularly in the ecosystem where they are fully involved. It was also clearly discussed that these processes require time for understanding and for building the relationship among all the actors that constitute the Knowledge Triangles.

Day 3 Session 3 DOMAIN 3: Contribution to developing innovations and businesses

Roundtable with experts about developing structures and conditions for people to create or develop their businesses and start-ups: Javier González, Education Developer at EIT Manufacturing, Pamela Ragazzi, Learning Programmes Orchestrator at EIT Climate and finally, Dr. Klaus Sailer, professor for Entrepreneurship at Munich University of Applied Sciences and CEO of the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE). 

Javier González presented a lighthouse Initiative of EIT Manufacturing Education for 2022, the Teaching Factories Competition. This initiative aims at: Promoting the use of the Teaching Factories educational methodology and giving visibility to the benefits of academia-business collaborations in a context of manufacturing innovation and challenge-based learning. This new KIC education programme is a brilliant example which shows how to support innovation and entrepreneurship through creating collaboration links between teach practitioners and teach students. 

Pamela Ragazzi focused on an EIT Climate city-based programme, Climathon, which offers a pathway to action and interaction through converging cities and citizens to co-create local ideas to shared climate challenges. Each year, Climathon brings together hundreds of cities and thousands of participants. Spanning an entire “Week of Action’’ where they celebrate, recognize and support the climate actions taken by citizens, youth, entrepreneurs, and change-makers all over the world. At the core of their programme is an ideathon organised by passionate local organisers; the people who know their cities and climate challenges the best. 

Klaus Sailer gave a presentation about Start for Future (SFF), an EIT Raw Materials initiative which combines resources and knowledge of over 20 universities and incubators across Europe in order to attract young people to innovation and entrepreneurship. Working with organisations such as EIT Manufacturing within SFF and effectively using synergies, makes it possible to foster entrepreneurial mindset, startup creation and co-creation in Europe, in a systematic way. In addition, he delved deeper on how to take the different ecosystems of different countries (unis, companies, students & start-ups) and build a network to create positive synergies. 

Breakout rooms: Discussions revolved around how to overcome bottlenecks and challenges of university and industry partnerships & ideas to overcome these situations. On the importance of addressing problems such as misalignment of priorities and horizons between HEIs and business, and how to find win-win solutions in order to decrease the lack of incentives for business to create partnerships with universities. 

Key messages of the session: The most important areas for actions highlighted during the session were the following: One crucial message was that while promoting awareness of the differences between business and academia can help to identify gaps and potential bridges between the two sectors, we do not have to forget that cultural differences between stakeholders, which can be significant, can also represent a set of opportunities to join forces and to create more university – industry networks, thus connecting the different actors within the HEI ecosystems.

 – A point to consider is the importance of enhancing entrepreneurial culture among the student body, teachers, and employees, while strengthening and tailoring strategies for building student-led entrepreneurship. 

– Innovative thinking is needed across all the actors and this could be enhanced applying different measures and activities, such as finding mentors among academics with entrepreneurial experience, entrepreneurship workshops, conferences and courses for teachers and students, and trainings for the industry to show them the potential of the academic world. 

– A final point is that while engaging with local entrepreneurial ecosystems, it is important to find win-win situations so that motivated/leading industries are willing to engage and continue to engage, as well as new business.