16 February 2023

TRAIN4EU+ to support entrepreneurship across the alliance

Innovation and entrepreneurship are hot topics across European universities: Research benefits society and demands for impact generated by university research environments are high. But where are the offers to support established researchers’ innovation efforts?

The universities in the 4EU+ Alliance offer a variety of activities for students and PhDs, such as hubs, courses and mentoring. Yet when it comes to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship for established researchers, the alliance only has limited best-practice cases to share. This points to the need to do more to support innovation and entrepreneurship among senior researchers.

TRAIN4EU+ spots lack of entrepreneurship across the alliance

The problem became clear when TRAIN4EU+ project members came together more than a year ago to pool best-practice cases within innovation and external collaboration. The aim was to make a catalogue of best practices. The catalogue listed many initiatives, but the shortage of cases within innovation and entrepreneurship for senior scientists also became very clear, according to senior consultant Jacob Juul Gade. He is the University of Copenhagen’s representative in the TRAIN4EU+ work package 4 (WP4), which  aims to promote collaboration between citizens, universities and businesses. As Jacob Juul Gade noted, regarding WP4 sharing of experiences:

"It's interesting that the gap is so obvious when it comes to offers for established researchers, that is researchers who are well into their career, seeing that they have the clout to create the impact that is called for.”

Initiatives the alliance can learn from

Within some fields, such as health sciences at the University of Copenhagen, interesting initiatives are emerging. For example, the innovation programme SPARK Denmark, supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, helps increase the chances of academic projects resulting in solutions that benefit patients and society. SPARK is a collaboration between the five largest universities in Denmark and is part of an international SPARK network which gives access to a wide circle of industry experts in the role as mentors, as well as to seed money, educational seminars and international SPARK summits.

However, there is a need for many more similar initiatives that focus on senior staff in research, and which offer a common platform for the entire alliance, Jacob Juul Gade says:

“All scientific disciplines in 4EU+ need support so that researchers can learn how to commercialise the results of their research or innovative ideas and in that way attract investors. We should learn from each other and use each other's facilities. There are a lot of emerging initiatives, but the fact that innovation and entrepreneurship don’t give credit is perhaps part of problem," he says.

TRAIN4EU+ is working on finding cases and sharing knowledge that can be used across the alliance. Recently, the group met at Sorbonne University in Paris to learn about their research innovation facilities.

One of the initiatives resulting from TRAIN4EU+’s effort was a week-long course at Heidelberg University where tech transfer colleagues across the alliance gathered to learn about the university’s efforts in this field.

Work within TRAIN4EU+ WP4 highlights the importance of all universities in the alliance offering courses and services for established researchers to give them the best possible basis for bridge-building between academia and business, and for starting everything from spin-outs to basic science, which will create a foundation of knowledge for the benefit of society.

Established and emerging initiatives to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among senior researchers:

Find out more about TRAIN4EU+