- Articulate open spaces for inter-institutional and interdisciplinary collaboration in order to tackle social and global challenges using the scientific-technological capabilities of the Euskampus aggregation, and the Basque Network of Science, Technology and Innovation.
- Promote local answers to global challenges connecting local capacities with first class global capacities, thereby reinforcing the visibility of the regional innovation system as a vector of the Knowledge Society.
The CEI Euskampus Project was conceived as a Community of Knowledge Hubs. Over the years, 11 Knowledge Hubs have been defined that have been able to develop by means of the establishment of a 1 million euro investment fund. This fund, managed as a seed fund, has been used as a source of secondary finance to attract competitive public finance, to co-finance collaborations in postgraduate training, research and knowledge transfer, or to promote emerging lines of trans-disciplinary research.
The Euskampus Knowledge Hubs have resulted in a pioneering initiative in the Basque system of Science,Technology and Innovation. Its five main characteristics or special features have been as follows:
- Focus on “pull” in place of “push”; The social and global challenges as “drivers” of collaboration and the scientific-technological capacities as “enablers”.
- Focus on “bottom-up” in place of “top-down”; The mobilization of the research and technology community of the aggregation to participate in knowledge hub definition and in the design and execution of the activities. In total, nearly 300 people have been directly involved through Knowledge Hub activities.
- Focus on “ecosystem” in place of “ego system”; The logic of financing institutions within the innovation system is replaced by the logic of financing local answers to global challenges.
- Focus on “connect” in place of “construct”; The Knowledge Hubs are not new structures; instead they are innovation hubs that allow existing structures to connect and interact.
- Focus on “co-creation” in place of “window”. New calls for help have not been made (window); instead the hubs have worked with researchers to design and execute their projects. In this sense, Euskampus Fundazioa has acted as an “investment partner” of the collaborative projects promoted.
Our perceptions of the world come fragmented according to the discipline with which we observe it. Each discipline observes reality from different perspectives and poses different questions. In fact, it is precisely these questions that differentiate the disciplines to which researchers belong. And nevertheless, the social and global challenges are increasingly more complex. Hence arises the need to form groups, interbreed and collaborate with different ways of understanding. The dynamic of the Knowledge Hubs has been working for years with this perspective. A perspective that has required building original collaborations of disparate types:
- In the first place, and given the generalist character of the UPV/EHU, many of the collaborations promoted have been collaborations between research groups and departments inside the University itself. Collaborations that have allowed to tackle more complex challenges and a greater orientation of University research activity to the needs of Society in general.
- Secondly, collaborations have been developed between TECNALIA researchers. And indeed TECNALIA is the result of the fusion of 8 Technology Centres within the Basque Country. It is a recent fusion that the CEI Euskampus project authorized to consolidate backbone connections and collaborations between divisions from different technology centres, while adding impetus to tackle complex challenges, using each centre’s complementary capacities; all this has strengthened the capacity to generate and exploit knowledge to help the competitiveness of Basque companies.
- And finally, as the essence of the CEI Euskampus project, new collaborations between researchers of the UPV/EHU and TECNALIA have given extra strength, increasing the value chain of R&D thus encouraging the development of the different links. The success of this work has specifically strengthened in the evaluation criteria of the regional instruments of R&D the importance of collaborations between different parts of the technology and scientific community and beyond this as well, that is to say, with the business fabric.
Most significant results obtained
- The increase in multidisciplinary research in the EUSKAMPUS aggregation;
- The opening of new lines of collaborative research between the entities of the aggregation;
- The activation of cross-cutting scientific-technological capabilities and their orientation to the resolution of social and global challenges;
- The impulse to “genuine collaboration” not driven by opportunism created by calls for collaboration that tend to favour a “window focus” but by the stimulus to offer local answers to global challenges.
- The idea of social and global challenges being drivers for research collaboration has been one of the differentiating features of the Euskampus Knowledge Hubs initiative.
- The development of new competitive public finance mechanisms in the Basque Country inspired by the Knowledge Hubs initiative (ELKARTEK Program, for the development of integrated tractor projects in the country, PCTI 2020, University Plan 2015-2018,…).
- An important mobilization of Basque Country bodies that have participated directly in the activities promoted by the Knowledge Hubs initiative Investment fund, also acting as a backbone element in the peri-university space.
- The orientation of UPV/EHU cross-cutting capabilities to the resolution of the social and global challenges defined in the strategic framework of the Knowledge Hubs, thus aligning the capabilities to those within the Basque Country’s Strategy of Intelligent Specialisation Strategy RIS3.
The dynamic of the Knowledge Hubs:
- it has been the catalyst for the internationalization of the Euskampus aggregation entities.
- it has positioned the aggregation within the framework of European priorities and, particularly, in the Knowledge Innovation Communities (KIC).
- it has aligned this internationalization with the priorities within the Basque Country’s Intelligent Specialisation Strategy RIS3.
- and in turn, the Hubs have been key to the development of the Euskadi-Aquitania Euro-region Strategic Plan 2020.