1.6 million funding for the EnvisionAlliances project to match academic innovators with industry players in the next 3 years
Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku together with its partners has been granted funding from the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) to develop a platform that matches academic innovators with industry to enable the effective commercialisation of research-based innovations. In the ENVISIONAlliances project European universities and SMEs will work together to match 100 innovators with 100 industry players to foster the creation of joint ventures between them. The work carried out in the project is the initial pilot for a future platform that will bring innovations from European laboratories quicker to the market.
ENVISIONAlliances will develop a novel learning framework that brings private enterprises and academics together. It will organise several matchmaking and networking initiatives to encourage collaboration and combine the theoretical expertise of the researchers with the practical knowledge and skills of the experienced entrepreneurs. A specially designed Entrepreneurial Residency Programme will give innovators the opportunity to participate in the day-to-day activities of an industrial firm in their sector. This programme will provide specialised training to equip academics with the required tools, skills and mindset to launch value-creating initiatives on a national and European level. Furthermore, a new higher education curriculum and course on Entrepreneurial Competence will be created to encourage an entrepreneurial mind-set amongst the next generation of researchers and business leaders, particularly with a focus on green and digital sectors.
''Innovations are of fundamental importance for Europe’s economic growth. Europe’s research community is large and the highly talented researchers are specialised in discovering new, sometimes even disruptive ideas. However, to turn these inventions into new products, processes or business models requires also business capabilities and mindset. With EnvisionAlliances we aim at matching these two talents, the innovative researchers and the business minded enterprises, eventually leading to innovations being introduced to the market.'', explains the Principal investigator of EnvisionAlliances, Research Director Marikka Heikkilä
The project was launched in June 2022 and will go on for three years, with a total budget of over 1.6 million euros, of which 20% will be contributed from the developing partners. ENVISIONAlliances aims to enhance entrepreneurship as a key competence among academics across Europe and to foster innovation within the business sector. This will stimulate the next generation of high-tech products and services for society, in the high-impact sectors of green and environmental technology, ICT, robotics, nanotechnology, medical and health.
A committed team with an ambitious vision
One of the objectives of ENVISIONAlliances is to increase entrepreneurial thinking in academia, which is reflected in the structure of the project consortium, comprising several European universities: University of Turku as the project coordinator (Finland), Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), University of Maribor (Slovenia), University of Murcia (Spain), Saxion University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands), Acceler8 Ltd (Malta), AcrossLimits Ltd (Malta), Arcinno Oy (Finland) and Web2Learn (Greece).
"Becoming an entrepreneur is not only a financial risk for a researcher, but also a career risk or even academic suicide. A less risky and often more effective solution is to build a team around the innovation to be exploited or to look for an established organization to utilize the innovation. The platform to be developed in the project and the active business collaboration of the University of Turku increase researchers' incentives to commercialize their inventions, strengthen the utilization of research results and increase the societal impact of research," sums up research director Aki Koponen.
The first matchmaking event will be done by the beginning of 2023.
The pilot phase of the Entrepreneurial Residency Programme will be launched in January 2023. This will start with a matchmaking event to connect eligible academics and researchers with businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs, establishing the first 20 residencies.