Funding to 13 Finnish organisations from Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation
The Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation action was available for proposals for the first time in the application round that ended in autumn 2021. Finnish organisations were extremely interested in the action as a total of 94 of them were involved in the applications in different roles.
Finnish organisations did well in the 2021 call. Thirteen of them were granted funding: Aalto University Foundation, Careeria, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Business College Helsinki, Nordic Food Tech VC, Mydata Global, Olemisen Balanssia ry, Raisio Regional Education and Training Consortium, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Silta-valmennusyhdistys ry, TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre and the University of Turku.
The organisations include five Finnish higher education institutions, three vocational institutions, and different associations and businesses. The University of Turku was granted funding for two projects, one of which it coordinates. Haaga-Helia also coordinates its project, and the rest of the Finnish organisations are partners in projects coordinated by other countries.
A total of 32 projects were funded at the level of Europe as a whole. The total budget for the action is EUR 61 million.
Innovation capability to Europe through cooperation of higher education, VET and businesses
Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation are aimed at improving Europe's innovation capacity through strategic cooperation of higher education, vocational education and training (VET) and businesses. Cross-sectoral cooperation is an essential part of the projects, and the projects are focused especially on digital skills and on fields that have been identified as key to Europe’s sustainable growth and competitiveness.
Funding under Alliances for Innovation is granted to Alliances for Education and Enterprises and to Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills. Alliances for Education and Enterprises promote cooperation between businesses, higher education and VET providers. Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills in turn are aimed at creating new strategic approaches and cooperation to develop competence in certain fields that have been identified in the European Skills Agenda, the Pact for Skills.
The budgets for the projects are EUR 1–4 million, depending on the category and the extent of the project.
Project coordinated by the University of Turku develops cooperation between businesses and higher education institutions
One of the funded alliances for innovation is Entrepreneurial Vision Alliances between Higher Education and Industry (ENVISIONAlliances), which is coordinated by the University of Turku. The project has a total of nine project partners: in addition to the University of Turku, the participants include universities from the Netherlands, Spain and Slovenia, a vocational institution from Malta and businesses from Finland, Greece and Malta.
The aim of the ENVISIONAlliances project is to reduce the gap between higher education institutions and the world of business. This is done by providing researchers and other personnel of higher education institutions with mentoring during which they can participate in the daily operation of businesses. The businesses, on the other hand, will benefit from the researchers’ theoretical expertise.
“A few years ago, we had a Horizon2020 project in which we encouraged small enterprises to innovate their business models. We conducted action research with more than 100 businesses and developed an openly available toolkit that small enterprises can use to develop their business activities. Our ENVISIONAlliances project will continue from this theme of developing and taking advantage of innovations. We will use the Entrepreneurship Residency mentoring programme that we will develop in the project to increase encounters between researchers and businesses and to promote the utilisation of innovations,” explains Marikka Heikkilä, Research Director from the University of Turku.
“The University of Turku has drawn up a strategy for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship training, aimed at supporting an entrepreneurial mindset and practices that support entrepreneurship in the whole community. This project gives us an excellent opportunity to use our knowledge and learning from previous projects and apply them concretely to the development of innovation activities between universities and businesses both at the University of Turku and more widely in Europe,” Heikkilä continues.
The total project budget is approximately EUR 1.6 million, of which the share of the University of Turku is slightly over EUR 260,000.
Next call for proposals
The 2022 application round is open and the deadline for applications is 15 September. In future, the application round will probably be organised once a year.
“The preparation of the applications takes time, and you should begin early enough. If you cannot make it to this year’s application round, you can already start planning and creating a partnership for the 2023 application round. We would particularly like to see participants from vocational education and training,” advises Tiina Pärnänen, Programme Manager from the Finnish National Agency for Education.