RUN-EU: How a European University Alliance is leveraging the European Research Area to deliver on regional needs

By Dr. Liam Brown, Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) at the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS) and EURASHE Board member

 

The Regional University Network – European University (RUN-EU)  is a European University Alliance with a broad range of different types of higher education institutions including Universities and Technological Universities, Polytechnic Institutes, and Universities of Applied Sciences, sharing a common background in successful collaboration with industry and regional stakeholders in applied education and research projects. The alliance members have a regional as opposed to a capital city focus and have a proven track record in the delivery of future and advanced skills activities in teaching, learning, research, innovation, engagement, and service to society relevant to global societal challenges.

RUN-EU’s corresponding countries and associated regions are: Technological University of the Shannon (TUS)  – Ireland (Midlands and Midwest Regions); Polytechnic of Leiria – Portugal (Centre Region); Polytechnic of Cávado and Ave – Portugal (Northern Region); NHL Stenden – The Netherlands (Friesland Province); HAMK University – Finland (Southern Region); FH Vorarlberg – Austria (Vorarlberg Region); Széchenyi István University – Hungary (Győr-Moson-Sopron County); University of Burgos – Spain (Province of Burgos), and Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen, Howest – Belgium (West Flanders).

RUN-EU strives to secure the sustainable economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress of its regions and stakeholders. RUN-EU aims to deliver on the future and advanced skills necessary for its students and regional stakeholders to successfully meet the challenges of the future, engage in societal transformation and promote active citizenship. Taking this approach will lead to the creation of a new type of multinational interregional alliance, a European Zone for Interregional Development (EZ-ID), made up of the constituent regions of RUN-EU.  RUN-EU is particularly responsive to the digital and green transition agendas and key socio-economic challenges of the EU.

Our European higher education inter-university campus is supported through a dedicated work package focused on the European Research Area (RUN-ERA) which stimulates and creates joint interregional research, innovation and regional stakeholder engagement activities across the alliance, and which will be underpinned by the expansion of the activities of our existing RUN-European Innovation Hubs (RUN-EIHs), RUN-Discovery Programme (RUN-DIS), RUN Immersive Research Institute (RUN-IRI), incorporating our RUN-EU PLUS SwafS (Science With and For Society) research support programme. A further work package is focused on  European Stakeholder Engagement, which stimulates systemic engagement with key external stakeholders in business, industry, society, and regional government through the creation of student-centred collaborative initiatives with regional stakeholders across all campuses of our European University in areas such as entrepreneurship, open science, innovation, and service to society.

In implementing its mission, RUN-EU will foster at its core existing European Union principles, values and objectives including multiculturalism and inclusiveness.  As RUN-EU addresses big societal challenges, including EU priorities, it will become a true engine of regional development, fostering excellence, innovation, and inclusion in higher education across Europe. This alliance will improve the national and international competitiveness of the associated regions and their academic community, thus allowing them to: (i) complement existing capital and large city regions; (ii) retain and attract young talent and (iii) correct existing unfavourable bias in development trends in peripheral European regions.