Why Spanning Boundaries?
After the launch of the Europe 2020 strategy and the EU Growth Agenda, Europe has taken the path to create a more connected relationship between society, government, business and higher education institutions (HEIs) in order to increase employment, productivity and social cohesion. However, despite the strong policy support, cooperation among the key actors in Europe is still in the early stages of development, and their interaction remains insufficient. In that, the recent reports by EU Smart Specialisation Platform and JRC particularly emphasize the need for “boundary spanners” in the innovation ecosystem, individuals who have deep understanding of both business and academia. This capacity is increasingly deemed crucial among the university staff in the entrepreneurial discovery and smart specialisation processes of the HEIs, to support transfer and exchange of knowledge. The nature of the barriers that hinder regional engagement include “lack of ‘boundary spanning skills in the university” and “lack of leadership to drive change”.
How can Spanning Boundaries project bridge the gap between policy and practice?
1. identifying the qualities, and knowledge & skills set that describes HEI staff, faculty, and leadership as boundary spanners,
2. designing and pilot testing an experiential learning programme on the concept in collaboration with partner business representative organisations,
3. extending the reach of the programme to staff from the businesses, and
4. generating and disseminating replicable tools for HEIs and SMEs across Europe. This will be achieved with the experience and collaboration of a diverse group of 10 partners, made up of 4 HEIs, 3 SMEs, a chamber of commerce, a regional development agency, and a European wide network from 8 European countries.