Creating a Framework for Collaboration: An exploration of Knowledge Alliances

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    Delivering on Europe’s Modernisation Agenda for universities has been a work in progress since at least 2006 (COM, (2006) 208 Final). It has recently taken on a new impetus, with the current Erasmus+ Call for Proposals likely to inject a further 1,507,3 million Euros (14.7 billion over 7 years) into education, training, youth and sport in the years to come. In terms of higher education, priority will be given to projects contributing to the Modernisation Agenda. What this means in reality is building, “, innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning; stimulating entrepreneurship and [the] entrepreneurial skills of higher education:and enterprise staff and facilitating the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge” (Erasmus+ Programme Guide, 2014). This is the role of Knowledge Alliances, to foster closer collaboration between higher education, business and the wider socio-economic community. The aim is to create structured dialogues that will result in transnational, results-driven projects, based on common goals and mutual benefits and outcomes. By being an active partner in the education process, it is argued, business can more effectively deliver graduates as business/industry ready. The approach is premised on not just the co-development, but co-delivery of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, with what is envisaged as being, “a truly two way process, with higher education and business joining forces to design innovative, sustainable ways to increase human capital” (ibid). Facilitating the dialogue requires new approaches to governance, funding and staffing within higher education institutions and this is characterised as resulting from a cultural shift, which is seen as being necessary if the disjuncture between the needs and expectations of business and universities is to be overcome. But how might it work in reality? In 2011 three pilot projects were established to explore various models and frameworks for collaboration, as a precursor to the Erasmus+ Call. The aim was to ‘test the water’ and see what complexities might arise and how they could be resolved. This paper explores one of three pilot Knowledge Alliance projects which ran between 2011 and 2013. After setting the context, this empirically based paper will provide details of the various approaches and challenges faced by higher education institutions (HEIs) and business partners; what was tried; what worked and what did not. The findings will be of interest to university leaders and staff; business leaders looking to engage more closely with HEIs, also to students and their advisors who are interested in what the education system has to deliver. Knowledge Alliances are a key aspect of Europe's strategy for the future of enterprise and entrepreneurship education, through collaboration with business and the wider community. The approach has far reaching implication that stretch beyond building successful university/business collaborations and starts to impact on governance, control and delivery in the classroom.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventEuropean Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship - University of Ulster Business School, Belfast, United Kingdom
    Duration: 18 Sep 201419 Sep 2014
    Conference number: 9


    ConferenceEuropean Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    Abbreviated titleECIE 2014
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education
    • Innovation
    • Collaboration
    • Knowledge
    • Alliances
    • New Pact
    • Modernisation Agenda
    • Europe of Knowledge


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