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Building partnerships is increasingly important in university missions in research and innovation particularly given the growing application of the “Open Innovation” model in university-business cooperation. The “Open Innovation” model can lead to opportunities for enhanced employability and entrepreneurial skills of university graduates and researchers, greater inter-sectoral mobility of staff and knowledge exchange.

EUA has developed a substantial amount of work in university-business partnerships, specifically through the EUIMA-Collaborative Research project and the Responsible Partnering Initiative. EUA has also worked extensively on collaborative doctoral education, through the FP6 DOC-CAREERS project – “From Innovative Doctoral Training to Enhanced Career Opportunities” – and through the FP7 DOC-CAREERS II project – “Promoting Collaborative Doctoral Education for Enhanced Career Opportunities”.

Drawing on the vast amount of knowledge gathered by EUA over the years, and particularly on excellent cases studies provided by more than 100 universities and businesses in the framework of the DOC-CAREERS and EUIMA projects, EUA developed the U-B Tool (Assessment Tool for University-Business Research Partnerships). The U-B Tool is an innovative online tool, addressed to universities and companies, for the self-assessment of collaborative research partnerships.

The topic of collaborative doctoral education, i.e., a doctoral degree involving joint work and supervision (university and industry partner), has been explored by EUA primarily through two projects – DOC-CAREERS and DOC-CAREERS II. These have sought to identify and disseminate good practices in collaborative research between universities and industry and other external partners.

The DOC-CAREERS project – “From Innovative Doctoral Training to Enhances Career Opportunities” (2006-2009) – received funding from the European Community Sixth Framework Programme. It was conceived as a ground-breaking project to explore the relations between doctoral programmes and the career development and employability prospects for doctoral candidates. It aimed at establishing a dialogue between a wide range of practitioners involved in higher education and research, industry and other stakeholders and policy makers across Europe. The DOC-CAREERS project involved 32 higher education institutions, 34 companies and 23 organisations in the field of higher education from 12 European countries. The final report, entitled  ‘Collaborative Doctoral Education: University-Industry Partnerships for Enhancing Knowledge Exchange’, is available here.

The DOC-CAREERS II project – “Promoting Collaborative Doctoral Education for Enhanced Career Opportunities” (2009-2012) – received funding from the European Community Seventh Framework Programme.

It was conceived as an exploratory action to test the feasibility of Regional Workshops as an instrument to foster university-business/enterprise collaboration. In this respect, the project developed a methodology to establish regional-level dialogue among all the stakeholders involved in the collaborative doctoral education, i.e. universities, companies, doctoral candidates and the student community at large.

The project achieved greater awareness of skill developments and mobility strategies in doctoral training in Europe with a view of career development and employability; promoted the benefits of tracking doctorate holders´ careers; gained empirical insights for reforming doctoral programmes; improved regional cooperation and networking in a dialogue with different potential employers; widened the dialogue with potential employers; and assisted the development of lasting partnerships, networks and joint initiatives.

The DOC-CAREERS II project involved 34 higher education institutions, 21 doctoral candidates, 36 companies and 23 organisations in the field of higher education from 13 European countries. The final report, entitled ‘Collaborative Doctoral Education in Europe: Research Partnerships and Employability for Researchers’, is available 

The EUIMA project – “European Universities Implementing their Modernisation Agenda” (2010-2012) – and specifically, the collaborative research strand aimed at identifying the necessary requirements and adjustments that universities needed to make in terms of human resource profiles (researchers, managers, etc.) to take forward and support the development of collaborative research and increase the attractiveness of university careers, both in research and in managing the partnership.

This project critically contributed to the development of monitoring tools and indicators for the assessment of university-based collaborative research, specifically the U-B Tool (Assessment Tool for University-Business Research Partnerships). This tool was developed based on input of universities, companies and other stakeholders in the field of university-business partnerships. The U-B Tool is also addressed at a variety of stakeholders involved in collaborative research, namely higher education institutions, companies, public authorities, NGOs, etc.

Major progress has been made in raising the profile of good practices in research collaboration between universities and business enterprises through the combined initiative of EUA, the European Industrial Research Management Association (EIRMA), the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) and the European Network of Knowledge Transfer Offices linked to Universities and Public Research Organisations (ProTon Europe) in launching the Responsible Partnering Guidelines: Joining Forces in a World of Open Innovation (2009). The Responsible Partnering Guidelines initiative is a “living document”, which has been revised periodically by the partners to reflect new developments.


The origins of the Responsible Partnering Initiative date back to a major conference held in 2004, which brought together the main stakeholders from universities, industry and public research organisations. As a result of the conference, a handbook based on good practices in university/industry collaborative research was published in 2005, entitled ‘Responsible Partnering: Joining Forces in a World of Open Innovation’.  In 2009 the updated publication - Responsible Partnering Guidelines: Joining Forces in a World of Open Innovation – included issues such as State Aid and European Community recommendations on IPR management.

European University Association (EUA)

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