YUFE TRANSFORMING R&I THROUGH EUROPE-WIDE KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER
As part of the ERA vision, the EC is aiming to see the necessary transformations in R&I that will include the promotion of citizen science and societal engagement, the mainstreaming of Open Science practices, the fostering of brain and knowledge circulation, strengthening of academia-business collaboration and embodiment in a glocal R&I ecosystem.
The YUFE (Young Universities for the Future of Europe) alliance embraces in YUFERING this challenge by effectively contributing to pilot these needed transformations to improve and harmonise the conditions for R&I in Europe.
By building on the established cooperation between the YUFE partners, YUFERING acts as enabler for R&I transformation and focuses on the following seven main objectives:
- To define and implement a YUFE community-engaged R&I agenda for an excellent and inclusive European University
- To function as a catalyst of flipped knowledge transfer and deployment in society
- To transform recognition, reward and circulation of talents and teams across Europe
- To make Open Science the “new normal” by creating a YUFE Open Science Strategy
- To create and enhance shared research support structures, mechanisms and infrastructures amongst YUFERING partners
- To achieve a broader impact on the R&I community and the society through a horizontal focus on community-engaged R&I
- To explore joint structures and to share best practices with other European Universities alliances to ensure towards system-level impact
- In YUFERING, the YUFE Alliance not only contributes to the necessary transformation required at many levels to build the R&I dimension
of European Universities, but also creates – with all relevant stakeholders – a blueprint for the ERA of the future.
The YUFERING project will set out actions and recommendations towards a model of R&I system, where excellence and inclusivity unite to transform and enhance European Universities and the R&I ecosystem they are part of through knowledge transfer, community engagement and exploitation across all sectors, stakeholder groups and countries.
YUFERING also allows the YUFE Alliance to explore synergies with the other European Universities initiatives towards addressing shared challenges in R&I as well as formulating solutions that could enable a deep transformation of all missions of universities. The progress achieved and models developed will benefit of all higher education institutions and have a tangible impact on society and economies across Europe.
The need for – and importance of – community engagement is well-documented. In 2017, community-engagement was a listed priority for the Renewed Agenda for Higher Education of the European Commission. We conducted a survey within our 10 institutions we realized that only 20% of researchers’ time is spent on community-engaged research and innovation. However, this does not imply that great work has not been done already toward community-engaged research and innovation (CERI).
The University of Essex deployed a survey across the YUFE institutions to map the processes and decision-making structures across the institutions, to investigate researchers’ motivations towards engagement in CERI, and undertake a researcher’s evaluation of currently available community engagement-based Research and Innovation support services and policies across the YUFE network.
What are the best practices of CERI at YUFE institutions and what lessons do we get?
The University of Rijeka prepared a report in November 2021 outlining success factors, challenges, and tools from YUFE’s best practices of community-engagement-based research. The report has even set up the context for CERI and it has provided a commonly acceptable by all partners definition of CERI.
If you want to read the “Report of R&I support structures and mechanisms: best practices” prepared by the University of Essex and the Report on CERI by the University of Rijeka, please check our Research Results section down below.
Expert ‘Best Practice’ and ‘Test bed’ Workshops on CERI
So far, two expert ‘best practice’ and ‘test bed’ meetings/workshops on community-engaged research and innovation have been organised in December 2021 by Maastricht University about ‘Can academics be activists’ and in June 2022 on ‘Community-engaged research: the involvement of academic and governmental actors in climate-related flood risks’. Researchers from the YUFE institutions have participated in each of these events.
Vision & Strategy
Following the quadruple helix approach, the YUFERING partners are developing a systematic approach for collaboration with societal-business actors (SBAs).
To achieve this, a joint vision a strategy is necessary. Therefore, the University of Antwerp has prepared a first draft of the YUFE vision and transformation strategy towards Flipped Knowledge Transfer, which was made possible by mapping the knowledge transfer practices at each institution. Three pilot use cases of innovation ecosystems will be conducted. To facilitate this vision, the team from UC3M is currently working on a strategy to implement the vision.
YUFE Knowledge Transfer Expert Network
However, we realized that having a vision and a strategy are not enough to make things work unless collaboration between experts from each institution starts taking place. That’s why the YUFE Knowledge Transfer Expert Network was created, consisting of 29 Experts on Knowledge Transfer from all 10 universities. The FKTN meets regularly under the coordination of the University of Rijeka and the experts exchange knowledge, best practices, and advice on difficult valorization cases. The communication and collaboration of this network have also led to identifying potential project calls the universities could apply to, leading to new successful projects and hence continued collaboration.
Hybrid meeting of the YUFE Knowledge Transfer Expert Network on the 10th of May 2022 in Cyprus
Interdisciplinary Profile and Career Development Path for Knowledge Transfer Professionals
The input of the YUFE Knowledge Transfer Expert Network will also be beneficial to creating an interdisciplinary profile and career development path for knowledge transfer professionals at the 10 institutions. This has started being prepared under the coordination of the team from the University of Antwerp and will be ready in the coming months.
Researchers’ Training on Flipped Knowledge Transfer
Finally, training opportunities need to be available for researchers on flipped knowledge transfer. The training will be done online to maximize the reach of the large research groups and will focus, among others, on soft-skills development and co-creation fundamentals.
We share the vision of a European Research Area with free circulation of researchers, scientific knowledge, and technology. Within the YUFE project, we are developing common tools to enable professional development exchanges and upward career paths such as joint YUFE Career Tracks. However, the ten academic YUFE partners have ten different national research systems featuring different national regulations towards research careers, mobility, selection procedures for entry and advanced positions, and assessment criteria. To make the YUFE career paths connectable, we need a better understanding of our national research career systems and the national and local research training and research funding landscape.
YUFE Competence Profile for Researchers and Development Offers
Therefore, the team working on the Recognition, Reward, and Circulation of Researchers will explore research career systems in more detail to identify bottlenecks and potential solutions for researcher mobility and a YUFE Career Track. The team will also map all the researcher competency frameworks already in place at the YUFE partner countries, and prepare recommendations at European, national and institutional levels to overcome the obstacles to talent circulation, and develop a Strategy for a European Career Track System making references to the ERA Policy developments.
The YUFE Competence Profile for Researchers and Development Offers will be publicly available in December 2022.
Novel Recognition and Reward Scheme for Researchers
The existing systems in which researchers are assessed in different YUFE universities were mapped through interviews with the HR Directors and other experts. The development of an assessment tool was also achieved and the YUFE partners are planning to pilot it in nine concrete recruitment processes for academic positions (incl. university lectureships, university teacher positions, post-doctoral researcher positions, clinical teachers, and one professorship in medical and health sciences and natural sciences). The pilot at UEF has already taken place and more pilots are expected at other YUFE institutions.
Instructing Supervisors to Identify, Develop Excellence
Supervisors play a key role in how talents and talents’ interests are developed. Therefore, tools and training are necessary to enable supervisors to support their researchers to develop their full potential. The first draft of a training programme for supervisors is already being prepared.
The work of the YUFERING consortium is addressing horizontally the challenges outlined in the European Open Access Agenda.
Open Science Bottom-Up Implementation: Full Open Science (FOS) Pilot
Open Science means cultural change and therefore the YUFE partners launched the Full Open Science (FOS) Research teams call. The goal of the call is to encourage at least 30 Research Teams to commit to open-access publications, open FAIR research data, citizen science, etc. Research Teams will need to achieve results during the period stated by the call to get a FOS label.
This label will empower the teams as role models and ambassadors within their institutions and therefore foster Open Science among their colleagues. The participating researchers will benefit from enhanced academic visibility as well as extra support from the university in unlocking their research outputs. The label will also strengthen their commitment to Open Science when participating in project calls for proposals.
Open Science is also part of the daily life of people from the YUFE institutions (and YUFE institutions aim to make it part of other people’s life too). The #YUFERING calendar is customisable is openly available to anyone on Zenodo. People across the world have also customised it and shared it on their social media.
YUFERING work packages aim to write reports on the research and innovation projects that are carried out by the different universities. These reports are posted here to make accessible to the YUFE community.
The YUFERING Annual Progress Meeting is coming up and will be held this May in Cyprus. Find the final programme here:
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