RUN-EU PLUS collaborates with industry to co-create solutions to regional and European challenges

28 February 2024

The main research focus of the Regional University Network European University (RUN-EU) is to deliver on the core objectives of the European Research Area by ‘fostering the free movement of researchers, scientific knowledge and innovation, and encouraging a more competitive European industry’. RUN achieves this through its and supporting RUN-EU PLUS project.

The RUN Discovery research programme has created 8 pan-European research clusters which bring together research expertise across the RUN alliance to form future-looking Research, Development and Innovation teams created to address societal challenges as identified by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, EU missions, Green Deal and Digital Europe. These 8 clusters develop and deliver collaborative research projects with regional and international business and societal organizations under the following themes:

  1. Creative art, Design and Materials Thinking
  2. Food and biotechnology
  3. Tourism
  4. IOT and Cybersecurity
  5. Advanced manufacturing
  6. Climate change – Circular Economy and Decarbonisation
  7. Education and Social Sciences
  8. Health and Wellbeing

Figure 1: The RUN-EU PLUS PMC meeting in NHL Stenden, February 2024

RUN-EU PLUS Project Management visits NHL Stenden, Leeuwarden, and Friesland regional partners to learn about initiatives and sustainability practices in local businesses, February 2024

A delegation from the RUN-EU PLUS team recently visited NHL Stenden in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands. The RUN-EU PLUS project is setting a new standard for collaborative research and innovation in higher education. This strategic initiative is funded by Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation programme and it brings together a consortium of European universities, led by Technological University of the Shannon (Ireland), with NHL Stenden, Politécnico de Leiria, Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Széchenyi István University of Győr and FHV Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences and HAMK: Häme University of Applied Sciences to create a European university that champions sustainability, technological change, and social innovation.

In February 2024 the Project Management Committee visited NHL Stenden and Friesland, with a deep dive into sustainable entrepreneurship and visits to innovative facilities which showcased the types of interactions we have with industry partners.

The visits commenced with a visit to the Greenwise Campus (link), part of the Dutch TechZone (link), where Charlotte Extercatte and Jan Jager of NHL Stenden Lectoraat Circular Plastics (link) shared their expertise, emphasizing collaboration on sustainable plastics, energy use, health, wellbeing, and smart technologies. The team learned about polymers, cooperation between industry and the university and even had a quick trial of a bicycle made from recycled plastics. Next up the delegation visited Vepa (link), a furniture factory specializing in the design and sustainable manufacture of fair furniture in Emmen, within the Dutch TechZone. Erik Luisman and Bram Kempkens welcomed the RUN-EU team, providing insights into their sustainability practices, showcasing products made from hemp and upcycled and recycled furniture. The Dutch TechZone’s role as an associate partner of RUN-EU is pivotal in the project’s success. Their mission to share knowledge, foster connections, and showcase the region on an international stage aligns seamlessly with the values of RUN-EU. The collaboration aims to elevate the impact of regional development-oriented European universities, fostering a global perspective. The visit concluded with a walk and talk tour of the Wildlands Zoo in Emmen (link) where we learned about sustainable water management.

Participants included our hosts Agnes Brinks (Project Manager Research Support at NHL Stenden), Ingrid van Gorkum (Specialist in the Mainstreaming of Open Science Practices, NHL Stenden) and Jellie Visser (Mainstreaming of Open Science Practices, NHL Stenden), Siobhan Moane (RUN-EU PLUS and RUN-EU Project Manager), Liam Brown (Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation and RUN-EU co-ordinator at TUS), Tony Johnston (RUN-EU PLUS Director of Tourism research and RUN-EU PLUS Dissemination Lead), Ruaidhri Neavyn (RUN-EU CEO), Emília Papp (RUN-EU project manager and team leader in SZE’s Project Office) and Petra Szakonyi (Horizon Europe co-ordinator at Széchenyi István Egyetem) and Nuno Miguel Almeida (Pro-President for the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and International Relations).

Figure 2: At the Greenwise Campus
Figure 3: At the Vepa Furtniture Factory

On Thursday morning we visited the Founded in Friesland entrepreneurship centre. In the workshop we focussed on the value of entrepreneurship in regional development. We discussed and mapped how our European university teaches entrepreneurship from innovation and inspiration, to education, to incubation and growth, hosted by Jornt De Boer.

The RUN European University and the RUN-EU PLUS project is not merely a project; it is a transformative force in European higher education. Through our collaborative PHD programmes, our dedication to Open Science, Researcher Training and industry connections, we are proud of our impact on our regions. Our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and collaboration is evident in every step, from our PHD project design, to entrepreneurial explorations, to on-site visits, and academic programs. As the project continues to unfold, we will continue to reshape our universities and regions, creating a model for holistic development that inspires and impacts communities on a European scale. We call on companies to reach out to us at our RUNEU-PLUS email to explore project collaborations. Visit our website for further information:


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