Findings from the Largest Study on University-Business Cooperation in Europe Launched in Brussels

On 14-15 December, 2017, more than 100 experts and stakeholders meet in Brussels to present and discuss the findings and conclusions from the largest study on the State of University-Business Cooperation (UBC) in Europe.

Across European regions, various activities exist to promote the cooperation among universities and businesses. However, substantial variations remain between different regions, countries and institutions, in whether and how UBC is understood, accepted and supported. To address these variations and get a profound understanding of the state of UBC, the international study was launched in 33 countries with an aim to learn: what is the state of play of a wide range of UBC activities in the different regions?

The study found that research cooperation (cooperation in R&D, consulting to business, mobility of staff) is the most prevalent UBC activity in most HEI faculties as well as industry sectors. However, HEIs and business in Europe also cooperate in the areas of education (curriculum co-design, curriculum co-delivery, mobility of students, dual education programmes, lifelong learning), valorisation (commercialisation of R&D, academic entrepreneurship, student entrepreneurship) and management (governance, shared resources, university support). Nevertheless, there remains a lack of awareness of all the ways in which university and business cooperate and how they interrelate especially in respect to lesser known research (professional mobility) and education activities (curriculum design and delivery, lifelong learning and dual study programmes) as well as valorisation and management cooperation.

The ‘academic collaborator’ typically initiated their own cooperation with business and they cooperate with more than 2 businesses, who are regional or national and either medium or large in size. Their biggest motivations for cooperation is to cooperate with business for research outcomes more so than promotion and reputation in the university (although this could be improved). Overwhelmingly, their cooperation is best facilitated through trust and mutually beneficial relationships with business. The academic collaborator is likely to have worked in business for a (any) period of time and will increase their cooperation with each year of experience they have with it. They work at larger universities, which are most likely applied sciences universities or technical universities although older HEIs tend to have a research focus and younger HEIs, a focus on cooperation in education. These HEI also tend to have more localized partnerships with business.

The ‘business collaborator’ typically cooperates with less than 5 HEIs, mostly in their region or country and are most typically traditional universities or polytechnics. They tend to cooperate primarily in research, however cooperate with their academic partners in more than one way indicating that it tends to be a relationship with the academic partner rather than a one-off transaction.  Their biggest motivations for cooperation is to support their innovation efforts, particularly with a longer-term perspective, which is supported by external funding. The business collaborator perceives cultural differences to be the largest barriers to UBC, particularly differing motivations and lack of business experience in HEIs as well as differing time horizons. As the business gets older, they are more likely to cooperate with industry at higher levels especially in education and as they get larger, more likely to increase cooperation in more long-term cooperation areas such as education and management.

Besides the presentation of the study results, the consortium has also shared the lessons learned from 52 leading examples of universities engaging with employers, business innovators and societal stakeholders. In addition the partners from over 20 countries have presented their national results, including representation from: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.


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About The State of the University-Business Cooperation in Europe Study

The State of European university-business cooperation (UBC) study was executed for the DG Education and Culture at the European Commission (EAC/10/2015) by a consortium led by the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre (S2BMRC), in Germany from January 2016 until November 2017.

The project investigated UBC from the perspective of both university and business. The main components of the project were a series of expert interviews with 23 recognised UBC experts, 52 good practice case studies, a UBC policy and indicators review as well as a major quantitative survey of stakeholders within both HEIs and business. The survey was translated into 25 languages and sent to all registered European HEIs (numbering over 3,000) in the 28 European countries and 5 associated states during October-November 2016. Through this, a final sample of 17,410 representatives from within HEIs and business was achieved. This makes the endeavor the largest international study into cooperation between HEIs and business yet completed.


For further information, please visit and/or contact:

Todd Davey, Project Director,

Arno Meerman, Project Manager,


Meet the authors

Professor Todd Davey
Prof. Dr. Todd Davey is a passionate researcher, practitioner, speaker and recognised expert on the topics of Entrepreneurship and University-Business Cooperation (UBC) as well as being author of the book ‘Entrepreneurship at Universities’. Formerly a Senior Manager with Deloitte Australia’s Technology Commercialisation Group and Strategy & Business Development Manager for one of Australia’s fastest growing start-ups, Todd has ‘switched sides’ to work within academia. Having just completed his PhD on entrepreneurship at universities at the VU Amsterdam, Todd also divides his time between his roles as Director of Strategy with the University-Industry Innovation Network, worldwide network focussed on the topic of university-industry interaction, and Managing Director at the innovation spin-out apprimo.

Arno Meerman
Arno Meerman is the CEO at University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN) as well as being a Council Member of the Accreditation Council for Engaged and Entrepreneurial Universities (ACEEU) and Business Development Manager for the Science-to-Business Marketing Research Centre, one of Europe’s leading scientific institutes in the area of university-business cooperation. He is currently the Project Manager for the State of European University-Business Cooperation initiative being executed for the European Commission and has been the Conference Organiser for the UIIN conference series, which averages over 350 people per conference and is the largest in the topic of university-industry cooperation.

Dr. Victoria Galan Muros
Dr. Victoria Galán-Muros is an active professional with a broad international expertise in university-business cooperation, higher education management and innovation from different perspectives. As a senior consultant, currently associated at Technopolis Group UK, has worked with universities and governments in 14 countries along with the European Commission. She is the scientific and policy manager of the two largest studies of university-business cooperation in Europe, for the European Commission (DG Education and Culture). Victoria has delivered professional workshops in 15 countries, co-authored 18 public reports and participated in 12 government funded projects.