14 Finnish organisations receive funding for strategic cooperation under the Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation

Programmes Higher education Erasmus+ Erasmus+ for vocational education Erasmus+ for higher education Internationalisation Education development
In the 2022 application round of the Erasmus+ Alliances for Innovation, a significant number of promising projects were selected for funding. A total of 62 million euros was awarded for alliances.
Tutkija työskentelee laboratoriossa.

Developing Europe's capacity for innovation is a key goal in creating a sustainable and competitive economic area, capable of responding to global challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity. A competitive European economic area, on the other hand, requires the development of innovation capacity.

This was also evident in the application round for the Alliances for Innovation, which ended on 15 September 2022, attracting applications from across Europe.

A total of 406 applications were submitted by the deadline, with Finnish organisations involved in as many as 155 applications. 

Finnish handprint in every fourth project 

At the European level, 32 projects received funding, with Finnish participants involved in eight of them. These eight projects involve collaboration among 14 Finnish organisations that received grants:

Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Karelia University of Applied Sciences, North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium, Olemisen Balanssia ry, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Demola Global Oy, Kemianteollisuus KT ry, Kumiteollisuus ry, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, Live-säätiö sr, Okmetic Oy, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Meyer Turku Oy, City of Turku

Finnish actors bring together higher education, vocational education and training, and business expertise, creating fertile ground for knowledge sharing domestically. 

Funding for partnerships between educational institutions and enterprises

The application round offered funding for two types of projects. The first (Alliances for Education and Enterprises) focused on promoting cooperation between higher education, vocational training and training, and businesses.

These partnerships aim to foster innovation at the interface of education and working life. Projects are 2 or 3 years long and can receive up to 1–1.5 million euros in funding. 

Infographic presenting application results. 372 applications were received for Alliances for Education and Enterprises, of which 25 were funded. From Finland, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Karelia University of Applied Sciences, North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium, Olemisen Balanssia ry, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, and Demola Global Oy received funding.

Finnish organisations performed exceptionally well in this competitive project lot, actively participating in four of the 25 funded projects. 

Projects focus on entrepreneurship education, health risks related to climate change, cybersecurity, and social innovation. 

Funding to address skills shortages

The second type of project funding was directed towards sectoral cooperation on skills identified in the European Skills Agenda (Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills). These alliances aim to address skills gaps that hinder growth and competitiveness in critical industries or regions.

The duration of these projects is 4 years, with funding of up to 4 million euros available. 

Infographic presenting application results. 34 applications were received for Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills, of which 7 were funded. From Finland, Kemianteollisuus ry, Kumiteollisuus ry, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (as coordinator), Live-säätiö sr, Okmetic Oy, Turku University of Applied Sciences (as coordinator), Meyer Turku Oy, and City of Turku received funding.

Although there were only a fraction of the applications compared to the first project type, it is noteworthy that Finnish organisations are involved in four of the seven funded projects. The projects focus on the field of chemistry, social innovation, microelectronics, and the shipbuilding sector.

A notable achievement for Finland is also that Diaconia University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences are acting as coordinators in two projects.

Diak: ESIC project works towards societal entrepreneurship and digital-green transition

One of the projects coordinated from Finland, the ESIC project led by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, launched its project period this autumn.

In the ESIC project, abbreviation of the project name "Alliance Fostering Skills Development for Social Economy - European Social Innovation Campus", Live-säätiö ry is also participating from Finland.

Project Manager and RDI Specialist Niina Karvinen from Diak explains how ultimately, the project funding supports the pursuit of the common good. This is possible by supporting a business model that combines economic success with societal impact.

"Societal entrepreneurship is one of our university's core competencies. Our mission is for it to be recognized as a way to improve the world and for Diak to be a desired partner in producing knowledge and expertise in this area. One concrete action to achieve this mission is to identify and increase external RDI funding related to societal entrepreneurship."

Karvinen emphasizes that a key expectation for the project is that the ESIC project acts as a catalyst in the social economy sector.

"The project's task is to identify skills gaps related to the leadership of social innovations in the social economy and to develop solutions that increase expertise at different educational levels, both in Europe and nationally. Another key goal is to increase the attractiveness of the social economy as an employer and as an opportunity for entrepreneurship."

Karvinen also highlights the project's significant role in supporting the digital-green transition. This goal is achieved in collaboration with the project's partner universities and NGOs, representing a broad knowledge network from Estonia, Romania, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, and Ukraine. 

Changes in the ongoing 2024 application round 

The 2023 Alliances for Innovation application ended in June, with results expected to be published by the end of the year. 

The next application deadline is 7 March 2024, meaning that applications need to be prepared earlier than in previous rounds.

For the Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills, applicants and participating organisations must be members of the Pact for Skills (read more below). For the Alliances for Education and Enterprises, higher education institutions not part of the Pact for Skills community can also apply for funding. 

Laura Lalu, team leader among Erasmus+ projects at EDUFI, accentuates the importance of preparation for the application.

"Time should be allocated for familiarizing oneself with the Pact for Skills community, identifying partners, and drafting cooperation plans to ensure the application process is as efficient and successful as possible."

Niina Karvinen from Diak mentions that although they are not part of the Pact for Skills initiative, Diak is considering joining an industry ecosystem focused on proximity and the social economy, which would open doors to networking and new learning opportunities. Diak's project partner, EURICSE, which is part of the ESIC consortium, coordinates Pact for Skills actors in Europe, thus securing a connection to the network.

What is the Pact for Skills iniative?

Pact for Skills is an initiative of the European Commission aimed at promoting skills development in Europe and responding to changing labour market needs. 

Any organisation or consortium of organisations that promotes the skills and retraining of working-age people can join the agreement. The organisation must be located in an EU member state, EFTA country, or candidate country. 

Membership is free and offers numerous collaboration opportunities with colleagues across Europe. In addition to networking, members have access to information and guidance.