In March 2020, the European Comission launched the HORIZON 2020-Swafs programme including a specific call focused on supporting the Research and Innovation Dimension of the European Universities pilots, funded under the Erasmus+ work programme. The ECIU Erasmus + project (called ECIU University) was funded in the first cohorts of pilots in 2019 and will be active until 2022.
When the ECIU University project was designed, the transformational initiative not only considered the educational perspective, but also contemplated the development of a joint institutional strategy to accommodate a challenge-based research and innovation system focused on UN SDG 11, and with the following goals:
- Develop incentives and support schemes for researchers to engage in challenge-based research
- Develop supporting measures to promote research-society dialogue and engage researchers with citizen science
- Pursue joint research objectives for the benefit of all members
- Establish local partnership arena’s and innovation hubs, for the engagement of the relevant stakeholders, the identification and revision of challenges, and the definition of a model for valorization of results.
This strategic positioning is the starting point of the SMART-ER project of SWAFS “European Universities”, which is aimed to the development of such joint strategies or vision documents, and to execute concrete action plans to reinforce the transformational capacity of the ECIU University Research and Innovation system.
The ECIU University Research Institute for Smart European Regions (SMART-ER) is a strong alliance in research, innovation and education, enabling all member universities to jointly address complex societal challenges under the framework of the UN SDG11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable), and with the following general objectives:
O1. To develop a common Research & Innovation agenda and convergence action plan, in synergy with education strategies and regional engagement, sharing infrastructures and resources
O2. To develop and implement strategies for strengthening human capital and collaborations in research and innovation
O3. To promote and integrate dialogue with society in R&I activities of SMART-ER.
As so, the purpose of the SMART-ER project is to support the research and innovation dimension of the ECIU University, in line with their shared, integrated, long-term strategy and in synergy with their education dimension.