Fostering Institutional Transformation of R&I Policies in European Universities

Joining forces to open up new horizons – European University Alliance FORTHEM wins new Horizon 2020 grant

On December 4, 2020, the European Commission and the FORTHEM Alliance signed another EU Grant Agreement – this time within the Horizon 2020 programme “Science with and for Society.” The grant will help to fund the next ambitious steps to integrating the Alliance partners into a genuinely European University.   

On January 25 and 26, 2021 more than 50 delegates of the seven FORTHEM partner universities, came together in a virtual meeting to officially start their joint activities to strengthen their research and innovation dimension, and to pave the way for future rich collaboration and co-creation.

Ambitious Plans  

In late July 2020, the European Commission announced the results of the call “Support for the Research and Innovation Dimension of European Universities.” The FORTHEM Alliance successfully applied for an additional 2 million EUR for their project FIT FORTHEM – Fostering Institutional Transformation of R&I Policies in European Universities.  

FIT FORTHEM is designed to map joint research and innovation policies – including open science and research agendas – in order to achieve several common and overarching goals of the Alliance. The grant will for instance help to sustain joint research activities in the FORTHEM labs with a view to nurturing long-term integration. In FIT FORTHEM, the Alliance will exchange best practices in the research and innovation sector and will work on common strategies for mutual access to partners’ research infrastructures, aiming to overcome local disadvantages and to open up new career paths for researchers and research managers.  

The Alliance will also cooperate in a virtual support centre providing expert advice to researchers planning joint grant applications to suitable binational, multilateral and European programmes. The project also envisions strengthening the multinational and multisectoral co-creation of knowledge and innovations, and expand their outreach. In doing so, partners will be able to upscale their professional skills in research management, strategic planning and science communication.

Transformative processes at all universities will be preceded by an assessment of the partners’ joint potential, and an in-depth study of differences between academic and innovation systems of the participating countries. On this solid foundation, the Alliance can continue to develop joint activities that go far beyond the scope of the ERASMUS+ and Horizon 2020-funded projects and can serve as a model for other European Universities.   

Matching the Vision of European Higher Education

Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, endorsed the vision of integrated European Universities.

These alliances are to equip students, staff and researchers with new skills and provide them with new resources to navigate the current green and digital transformations and to tackle future challenges.

The main idea behind European Universities is to serve as testbeds for new forms of institutional cooperation in higher education. “The task of the institutions selected as European Universities is to identify incongruities between national systems of higher education, and to suggest how we can best overcome obstacles to integration. We plan to so this by developing action plans and building bridges through cooperation” – explains JGU Vice President Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller-Stach, the coordinator of FIT FORTHEM.

Under the Grant Agreement No: 101017248