Capabilities and experience

This dimension refers to staff’s capabilities and experience with external engagement, as well as the current state of external engagement activities. If you wish to learn more about the engagement readiness concept and its dimensions, you can download the Engagement Readiness Investigation Report.

On this page you will find a set of tools for improvement of an HEI’s engagement readiness in terms of staff’s capabilities and experience. If you have already completed your self-assessment you might have been directed towards specific tools from the set. You can also browse through the tools without participating in the self-assessment, but we strongly recommend the online self-assessment tool for building a tailored roadmap to engagement readiness, as well as specific recommendations for relevant tools.

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The following six examples will take you on a tour around Europe to explore and learn from existing good practices in which the extent of staff engagement is pushing the boundaries of traditional operations in a higher education institution. Most of the examples are based on the case studies of the University-Business Cooperation in Europe project and complemented by a case study presented on University Industry Innovation Network blog. 

While reading, think about what part of the presented practices you would be able to adapt and adopt in the context of your higher education institution. 

The cover of the report: a birdview of two people rowing in a kayak synchronously. Blue and green water surrounding them.

The BBS React Innovation Program’s aim is helping companies of the area to redefine their business models according to the necessity of what we call “the new normal”, the post-Covid world.

The BBS React Innovation Program project is an initiative of Bologna Business School, led by the Department of Management of the University of Bologna, designed to make a real contribution to the post-Covid recovery, involving students and Alumni divided into specific rescue teams.  The aim is helping companies of the area to redefine their business models, and adapt to the new necessities defined by Covid-19. To provide them innovative design responses.

Read the full review of the program:

Beside contractual research in the business sector, there has been an increasing demand for experts in the development and humanitarian sector. Websites like Devex provides information on short and long term consultant opportunities across the world.

Link to the platform:

In this article, the authors present a conceptual framework of academic consulting and explore its impacts on universities and the benefits to innovating firms. They distinguish between different three types of academic consulting:

  • opportunity-driven
  • commercialisation-driven
  • research-driven

Using this typology allowed the authors to evaluate the varying impact of different consulting activities on universities and firms. They found that consulting has limited impact on biasing academic research towards more ‘applied’ themes. Secondly, they found that consulting is positively associated with academics’ research productivity for research-driven and, to a lesser extent, commercialisation-driven consulting while involvement in opportunity-driven consulting has a negative impact. Thirdly, they differentiate between different functions of academic consulting for different types of firms. Commercialization-driven consulting allows firms to accelerate development along a chosen path of in-sourced technology. Research-driven consulting is used mainly by large firms in research-intensive sectors for externally informing and validating the direction of their R&D and long-term product development efforts. Opportunity-driven consulting is commissioned mainly by new technology-based firms seeking to compensate for lacking expertise or equipment.

Read the full article:
Perkmann, M. & Walsh, K. (2008). Engaging the scholar – Three forms of academic consulting and their impact on universities and industry

Collabwith Platform (platform)

Collabwith is a platform that allows researchers and SMEs to connect. This platform is not only around Horizon Europe, but for SMEs looking for consultancy services too. Collabwith offers solutions and technology for open innovation and collaboration ecosystem to organizations, which they can test for free through the platform. Interesting Collabwith services are the Matchmaking service for business and innovation collaborations and the SaaS Platform which promises to reduce organizational bureaucracy by 60%, increase efficiency by digitizing collaboration process and decision making for innovation growth.

Link to the platform:

The Report provides insight into good practices and provides recommendation on how to foster mobility between universities and industry.

Link to the full article:

Check out the results and recommendations of the ERASMUS+ project “European Dual System (EU-DualS)” which tested the transfer of the German “Dual System” to other VET training systems in Europe.

Link to the projects website:

Check out handbooks and other resources on how to initiate and manage co-design processes which can be applied in diverse settings, including for curriculum development.

Link to the database:

The Report shares insights into how future of education looks like and how curriculum design and deliver should change.

Link to the article:

We introduce you to a case of challenge-based education. The HAMARA-model has used entrepreneurship education as a basis to bring both students and HEI staff out of the classroom and closer to the real-life environment. Fifteen service management students used a restaurant owned by Jamk University of Applied Sciences (Jyväskylä, Finland) as a learning environment supported by a formal suppot network of coaches, teachers and supervisors.

Read more about the model and its outcomes from the research paper manuscript of Minna Tunkkari-Eskelinen, first published in the proceedings of the 20th anniversary conference ”Educational Aspects of Entrepreneurship and Creativity” of the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences in 2013, and from the presentation slides of the model.

Research paper: HAMARA_Research Paper

Presentation: Hamara_Presentation

The Recommendation provides a European reference framework on key competences for policymakers, education and training providers, social partners and learners themselves. It also presents successful ways to promote competence development through innovative learning approaches, assessment methods and support for educational staff.

Link to the database:

In this webinar, educators will walk through an interactive experience of the Challenge Based Learning framework. This video is 55:53 min long and it contains on/off captions in English.

If the video is not displayed correctly, you can also find it on YouTube:

A picture of the logos on the Idea website. UNIBO logo with text: Alma mater studiorum Universita di Bologna. Idea logo with text: innovation, development, entrepreneurship, alma mater.

Idea is the University of Bologna website that presents to students, teachers and researchers, and organizations all the initiatives related to innovation and entrepreneurship. It is the University’s Third Mission showcase, with the aim to disseminate business culture, striving to create a new sustainable model in which universities and businesses can produce a return on investments in research and education for society through innovation, creativity, responsible sales practices, and the creation of jobs.

On the website is possible to find all the information for the different stakeholders, the news, the opportunities, and all the events organised by UNIBO and its partners. Furthermore, all the activities and initiatives are listed, such as: ALMALABOR (a makerspace prototyping laboratory and co-working space), ALMACUBE (the business incubator & innovation hub) and ALMAECLUB (the community of teachers and researchers that encourages exchanges, learning, and project activities centred around academic entrepreneurship).

Visit the Idea website:

The Engagement Readiness Toolkit offers you quick tips for improving your organization’s engagement readiness level. If you don’t have the time to go through any other material, you can at least take this syntesized piece of advice with you through the day and reflect on it in your work. 

This one, as all suggested quick tips, is based on the Engagement Readiness Investigation Report, available for download on the Engagement Readiness Monitor website. 

Engagement readiness quick tip: Theo of the key characteristics of an entrepreneurial and/or engaged university are embedding the value of and the skills needed for collaboration and cooperation into HEI's research programs and educational content, as well as engagement more generally. Collaboration with businesses on curriculum design and delivery van facilitate entrepreneurial learning in HEIs.

The Self-Assessment Questionnaire is designed to allow for the immediate evaluation of the state of shared government at institutions of higher education.

Link to the survey:

The Green Mobility Research Lab is the joint laboratory between the University of Bologna and FEV Italy for the development of intelligent mobility.

Link to the website:

Universities in Europe provide special sponsorships and fellowships to Ukraninan academics.

Link to the website:

Interstitial spaces are informal settings where interactions among actors from different organizational fields are more likely to succeed despite the institutional complexity that they face. Individuals acting as “catalysts” have been identified as being particularly important in the dynamics of these interstitial spaces. However, the focus to date has been on individuals interacting in interstitial spaces that have developed informally, and we know little about how formal organizations might purposefully create and manage interstitial spaces to initiate cross-field interaction. Using data from a study of six organizations involved in technology transfer activities between universities and industry in Italy, we explore how formal organizations use interstitial spaces to encourage cross-field collaboration and identify the set of formal and informal activities employed by catalysts to manage the complexity that arises. In addition, our analysis identifies two activities implemented at the organizational and field level by the formal organizations to support the interstitial spaces. Based on these results, we develop a model of the management of interstitial spaces by formal organizations.  

Reference: Villani, E., & Phillips, N. (2021). Formal organizations and interstitial spaces: Catalysts, complexity, and the initiation of cross-field collaboration. Strategic Organization, 19(1), 5-36 

Link to the full article: 

How can you use what you’ve learned to improve your organization’s engagement readiness?

The Innovation & Partnerships department developed their Customer Relationship Management Plan to know better not only companies they cooperate with but also the people behind it. So, they follow and build on existing and earlier relationships with their business partners. Their approach is personalized communication, which is time-consuming and requires special set of skills. Each year the University has 200 new business partners, and since it is difficult to communicate regularly with all of them, the team selects the most important partners based on the following priorities:

  • company is a university spinoff
  • company is based on university campus (there are cca ~30 such companies)
  • company has lots of researchers employed, etc.

The University President sends letters to these companies each year.

Review the University of Montpellier research partnerships and innovation transfer processes and structure:

External stakeholders can review research focus and capacities of various research departments and technology transfer procedures to get a better idea how collaboration can take place:

While reading, think about what part of the presented practices you would be able to adapt and adopt in the context of your higher education institution.

More information from the paper:

Perkmann, Markus & Salter, Ammon. (2012). How to Create Productive Partnerships With Universities. MIT Sloan Management Review. 53.

Read the blog by Federica Rosetta and Zoe Genova on how EU universities are forming alliances to boost research opportunities, trans-national collaboration and the quality and competitiveness of European higher education.

Link to the article:

This action enables participating organisations to gain experience in international cooperation and to strengthen their capacities, but also to produce high-quality innovative deliverables.

Link to programmes website:

This network connects a group of leading research institutions & innovating companies around the world, so that together they can plan & deliver pioneering Horizon Europe projects. It is open to any organization, of any size, anywhere in the world, that can demonstrate a strategic commitment to collaborative research and innovation. This platform allows academics to have direct contact with SMEs, but it also allows those supporting partnership engagement to facilitate the contact on behalf of the academics.

In particular, check out the Success Stories web page and benefits university got from joining the Crowdhelix Network.

Link to the network website:

Link to the Success Stories section of the website:

The Report “Towards Coalition Excellence: Report on University-SME Collaboration In Europe” identifies main challenges, motivation and facilitators of stronger partnerships between universities and small and medium companies in Europe and based on these offers an overview of competencies and fields of knowledge that are necessary for fostering stronger collaborative partnerships for education, research and valorization.

Link to the full report:

An excellent way to ensure social and industrial impact of develop solutions is to test them on the market directly. Good example of such approach is the LOTUS – a Horizon 2020 funded project in implementation by L’École Polytechnique and 23 partners organizations, including EASY GLOBAL MARKET SAS, a SME from France, developing an innovative chemical sensor for water quality monitoring, which will be tested during the project in India. Materials from this project are useful to get insight how this project was designed to ensure social impact and how partners shared their roles in different phases of the project.

The project developed specific case studies where developed technical solutions were implemented directly in the society. Great approach to designing for engagement readiness in research is to incorporate direct implementation of project results in industry and society.

Link to the LOTUS project page:

Link to the project’s case studies:

While reading, think about what part of the presented practices you would be able to adapt and adopt in the context of your higher education institution.

This Map is developed specifically for universities and research institutes to be used to help them map assets they have or may have, at its disposal and that are suitable for utilization by other academic institutions, the private sector and other organizations in society. The Academic Intellectual Assets Map is part of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Intellectual Property (IP) Toolkit for Academic and Research Institutions – Connecting Academic Research with the Economy and Society.

Link to toolkit:

Asset mapping is the process of identifying, documenting and systematizing the existing resources, strengths, and benefits of an entity, such as an organization or a community, to incorporate them into the decision making and development work. It could be applied for increasing of engagement readiness in many ways. Firstly, as engagement is related to the external actors, society and businesses, community asset mapping could be used. By this, the higher education institution (HEI) and its staff could become more aware of the existing partnerships and their extent, as well as identify the opportunities for contribution to the local community, the region, the surrounding businesses, etc. The assets of an HEI could also be identified and organized, or ”mapped” in a way, internally. In this context the term assets refers also to the education field specific research and educational resources. By being aware of the existence and extent of these assets and being able to facilitate them in the university-business cooperation or the interaction with society, an HEI maintains a level of engagement readiness.  

Image illustrating the Kumu-map

Find out how you can use asset mapping for engagement readiness. The blog article investigates the following topics: 

  • Asset literacy 
  • What could be counted as an asset? 
  • Does asset mapping require an actual map? 
  • Case: A network map of ongoing projects in Central Finland (video) 

    Link to the full blog article: 

    Finnish co-creation platforms act as facilitators and boundary spanners, who support long-term interaction and culture-building across organizations.

    While reading, think about what part of the presented practices you would be able to adapt and adopt in the context of your higher education institution.

    This Classifcation includes measures which can be used to assess universities and their educational assets.

    Link to the report:

    Ask about: content of studies, learning environments, internship, career counceling, working life connections, thesis.

    Students are a unique resource that only HEIs possess, and in many ways, they function as an interface of university-business collaboration. But do we know enough about how and where they interact with the industry, how much they benefit from this and what is the benefit for the HEI in terms of engagement readiness? Student feedback could be used both for increasing the awareness of ongoing engagement activities and for mapping of educational assets by staff.  

    Read the section ”Student Feedback as an Indicator of Engagement” from the blog article Measuring the Engagement of Higher Education Institutions in Finland to find out how in Finnish higher education students’ feedback is used to measure engagement. 

    How could you use student feedback to improve engagement readiness? 

    The information below is translated from

    Münster University of Applied Sciences has developed a model called “Nachwuchsprofessur” (junior professorship), which with which academics with a doctorate can qualify to apply for a professorship at a university of applied sciences. The hiring requirements for professorships at universities of applied sciences generally provide for in addition to a qualified doctorate, a five-year period of practical work experience, of which of which at least three years must have been spent outside the higher education sector. The three years of professional experience outside the higher education sector – i.e. in a company – must be completed with at least a half-time position in order for the hiring requirements to be met. Scientists and academics often lack often lack precisely this professional experience for a promising application for an FH professorship.

    A “junior professorship” gives the opportunity to complete the requirements for employment. It provides for young academics to work for three years half in teaching and research at the university and half in a company, where they gain practical experience. The university provides support in the search for a position in industry. In an internal university programme, especially for young female academics, Münster University of Applied Sciences goes even and hires the young professors with 75% of the regular working hours; 25% is then assigned to the company, which only pays a quarter of the regular working hours. 25% is then assigned to the company, which only provides a quarter position. Together with the assigned quarter, this results in a half position in the company and a half position in teaching and research at the university. This makes the model even more even more attractive for companies, since they have half a position with a highly qualified junior staff member but only have to finance a quarter position.

    The aim of the junior professorship without tenure track is to give academic staff the opportunity to gain professional experience in and outside of higher education, to be able to apply successfully for a professorship at a university of applied sciences – not only at Münster University of Applied Sciences

    Information available here in German:

    Read this blog to better understand how prior work experience in the industry can inform your research or professional role at a university.

    Read the full blog article:

    Spanning Boundaries Agents report cover

    This research report titled What Are Spanning Boundaries Agents and Why Are They so Important to the Future of the Knowledge Society is a first attempt by the Spanning Boundaries project to identify, define, and characterize the Spanning Boundaries Agents’ (1) qualities, (2) skills, (3) knowledge, (4) roles, (5) activities and responsibilities and to identify (6) barriers and drivers in the UBC context. Thus, the report articulates a comprehensive picture of the Spanning Boundaries agent. 

    This report is based on an extensive literature review on the University-Business Collaboration (UBC) context, a large qualitative study consisting in 60+ interviews with Spanning Boundaries champions and experts, and a large quantitative survey for individuals working in the intersection between academia and industry. 

    The Spanning Boundaries Synthesis Report will provide you with insights on personality traits needed to be an effective Spanning Boundaries Agent, the importance of having a certain skillset, knowledge, and expertise in order to break down collaboration barriers, the different roles and activities present within the UBC context and, lastly, the most common barriers and success factors that have an impact on Spanning Boundaries activities. 

    Link to the full report: 

    To be engagement ready it is necessary for an HEI to ensure the human resources possessing the required skills, competences, and experience for engagement. In addition, the personnel’s work should contain the functions that enable engagement. 

    Read the section “Skills and specific functions of the human resources” of the blog post The Human Factor in Higher Education Institutions’ Engagement to find out more about the engagement skills and functions of human resources. 

    The conclusions in the blog post were made by analysing Jamk University of Applied Sciences’ conducted expert interviews for the Engagement Readiness Investigation Report. 

    Terraces with greenery.
    photo by Danist Soh on Unsplash

    This global network of science parks and areas of innovation aims to drive growth, internationalization and effectiveness for its 350 current members. Through taking part in this association, universities can connect their innovation groups and parks to become part of an international innovation ecosystem, foster learning experiences and integrate their educational and research programs with other schools and businesses.

    Universities can also promote their programs through participation in the IASP Inspiring Solutions Programme which recognises excellence within science park and area of innovation management, and gives visibility to the best projects and initiatives. It also creates a library of best practices that other STPs/AOIs around the world can implement for themselves. The solutions might be new ideas in any area of activity carried out by science parks and areas of innovation. They could be:

    • services provided to companies
    • new ideas in business incubation, acceleration or soft landing
    • new approaches to networking, internationalisation, or attracting talent
    • initiatives to collaborate with the city and strengthen the whole innovation ecosystem.

    Link to the network’s website:

    Link to the IASP Inspiring Solutions Programme:

    The cover of the flyer.

    The flyer presents all the activities promoted by the University of Bologna to address companies’ needs and encourage students, academics, and researchers to engage with industry. This communication material also points out important statistics about the extent of engagement of the university.

    Link to the flyer:

    To know more about the initiatives listed in the flyer:

    List of the Interdepartmental Centres for Industrial Research:

    The Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment sets a shared direction for changes in assessment practices for research, researchers and research performing organisations, with the overarching goal to maximise the quality and impact of research.

    Link to the full report:

    This LinkedIn blog offers job interview questions to asses for collaboration.

    Link to the full article: