Reimagining Higher Education Research Financing -A Living Lab Approach

The horizon has changed, higher education research is experiencing intense new demands and priorities to act upon and contribute to global transformation processes such as the green and digital transition. While operating in an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment, they must also strategically experiment with new forms of international collaboration, such as European University Alliances. These trends are affecting all dimensions of university life, but in particular their funding context, suggesting a need for innovative approaches and begging the following questions: Is innovation in HEI research funding possible? How can HEI funding adapt to the rapidly evolving globalising context HEI’s find themselves in? What implications do changes in the funding landscape have on governance and leadership? What is the capacity of universities themselves to think ahead and develop financial strategies? Which investment priorities are needed to future-proof activities? 

University College Cork (UCC), a partner in the EU Horizon Europe CATALISI[1] initiative, aims to reinject some re-imagination into this discussion and outline possible future paths for university research finances. A Living Lab at University College Cork is focusing on a cross-cutting target intervention area under the working title ‘Financial Sustainability for Research & Innovation’. In line with the Living Lab methodology embraced by CATALISI, a transformation approach has been adopted, prioritising participatory and iterative co-creation actions with stakeholders including university staff and students and external partners.


[1] The primary goal of the CATALISI project is to support seven Higher Education Institutions (so-called ‘Implementers’) in successfully implementing a strategy and individual pathway for Institutional transformation. CATALISI Higher Education Institutions (Implementers) are located in seven European countries, more specifically: Greece (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki – AUTH), Lithuania (Kaunas University of Technology – KTU), Ireland (University College Cork – UCC), Poland (University of Gdańsk – UG), Spain (Jaume I University – UJI), Italy (Luiss Guido Carli University – LUISS), and Netherlands (Amsterdam University Medical Center – AUMC).

 

The CATALISI model focuses on three main domains for institutional transformation (Research careers and talent support, Open science and public engagement, and Sustainable research and education) composed by different intervention areas and intersected by seven targeted and innovative acceleration services (Living Labs, Design Lab for transformational pathway, and Counselling, Reinforce Human Capital; Predictive study on skills anticipation; Marketplace; Community of practice (CoP)). These are designed to facilitate and catalyse institutional transformations in the field of Research and Innovation which will strengthen HEI’s collaborations and alliances as lighthouses of European values.

While framing its Living Lab and the intervention area it is targeting, UCC recognised that financial sustainability is an integral and requisite part of realising sustainability in broader terms and within the context of a research and innovation ecosystem that interacts at local, regional, national, and international levels. Institutionally UCC is committed to continually strengthening its research and academic excellence. This intervention area is therefore strongly aligned to the university institutional strategy, leadership commitment and ambition around UCC’s Research and Innovation agenda. This is articulated under Goal 1 of the UCC Strategic Plan 2023-2028 which sets out to ‘deliver impactful research and innovation that addresses global grand challenges in signature areas of excellence’.

The role of the UCC Living Lab is to collaboratively engage with stakeholders to explore the current state of affairs and to co-design, develop and pilot new models and practices, thus accelerating transformation, a key goal of CATALISI, towards a more financially sustainable research and innovation ecosystem. The Living Lab approach to collaboratively examine and plan for financial sustainability is particularly relevant to the institution considering the complexity and scale of the issues to be addressed. Participants in the Living Lab have highlighted the following issues:

Firstly, in Ireland, there is a relatively low level of Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD), one of the lowest investment in R&I of OECD countries. In addition, a high proportion of total research income to UCC comes from a small number of large-scale research centres, with an over reliance on one single state funding agency, presenting a need for more balance to ameliorate risk.

Research income for the most part, solely covers direct research project costs. In many cases, the small institutional overhead provided (indirect costs) by a research grant does not sufficiently support the full cost to the institution of supporting a funded research project. For example, additional needs include support from staff in the research office, finance office, legal office, human resources department, Library, and many other support services over the lifetime of the grant.

As there is no mechanism currently for retaining overhead institutionally to invest in strategic initiatives or capacity building initiatives, an enhanced strategic model of income allocation is required for longer term financial sustainability, as without the ability to invest strategically, the institution is compromised.

For example, increasingly UCC, as a local regional institution, is experiencing issues related to brain drain, talent retention and attraction. It needs to unlock mechanisms to better retain, attract and sustain a pipeline of research talent. This requires identifying and unlocking financial mechanisms that enable institutional development in this area.

In addition, staff have identified Pre and Post Award grant support as an issue for researchers outside of research centres. Staff have identified a range of support needs for College and School based researchers, in particular – grants involving complex community partnerships (co-hiring, co-financing, co-researching etc.) which require deeper research supports than are currently available. UCC’s research and innovation context is also one of rapid pace of change with respect to Open Science. Currently, there is an ad-hoc fragmented approach to Open Science because of financial constraints with regard to planning for future needs.

Secondly, UCC Living Lab stakeholders are concerned about a context where research priorities are increasingly set by external funding agencies, with a narrowing of research topics and a need for greater diversity and more institutionally determined topics. With regard to institutional autonomy, UCC finds itself relatively constrained regarding its ability to fund and support an institutionally determined and driven research agenda – within a wider context of a funding policy and culture determined nationally and at European level.

In addition, Funders are also increasingly encouraging societal engagement as an aspect of research proposals, but without consideration of the collaborative design, planning and ongoing partnership over many years needed with external partners to enable meaningful and impactful research. Systems and supports are needed to realise truly transformative rather than transactional relationships between higher education and society. In this regard, there is currently a disconnect between university research systems, societal actors, funding instruments, policymakers and the public, presenting a need and opportunity for advocacy to funding bodies and policymakers to address these issues.

With the launch of CATALISI’s acceleration service, a Living Lab, UCC finds itself more equippedto identify the issues and progress innovation towards the ‘Financial Sustainability of Research & Innovation’. Its capacity to think strategically and to also think ahead as an organization has been enhanced through identifying and partnering with its stakeholders, internally and externally. We are now positioned to gather valuable insights into the local context, barriers, and the framework conditions that impact our potential for institutional transformation. The involvement of quadruple helix stakeholders – Academia, Business, Public Administration, and Civil Society – has added a mosaic of perspectives, needs, and expectations to our thinking. Our determination now is to progress action plans, informed by our stakeholders, and indeed with our stakeholders, ultimately accelerate and drive an effective transformation.

Improving Research Careers: Insights from the Third CATALISI Webinar

As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance research and innovation in universities and support the career development of students and professionals, the CATALISI project hosted its third webinar titled “Recognition of Qualifications in Research Careers: Skills in Research and Beyond.” This webinar is part of a series aimed at bolstering research departments and careers.

One of the key initiatives of the CATALISI project is the creation of a free repository of resources to assist universities and individuals in accessing training materials. These resources are designed to empower participants to enhance their reseach skills at their own pace and convenience.

All materials, including recordings of past webinars, are readily available on the CATALISI website: The Learning Hub.

In our latest webinar, we were privileged to have two distinguished speakers share their expertise with us. Erica Feliziani, Research Advisor at the University of Macerata, delved into the essential skills and training required for European research managers, drawing insights from the CARDEA project.

Surveys conducted as part of this project underscored the importance of a diverse skill set, with a particular emphasis on soft skills. Furthermore, there was a notable gap in perceived training opportunities, indicating a preference for practical and flexible training approaches.

In response to these findings, CATALISI is actively developing flexible and practical training programs tailored to the needs identified in the surveys. We invite all stakeholders to participate in shaping these initiatives and driving positive change in research management.

 

Our second speaker, Rrap Kryeziu, a senior consultant at EY, shed light on a predictive study focusing on the soft skills researchers will need to thrive in the labor market. Through interviews with over 45 vice-rectors, deans, and 1700 PhD students across Europe, valuable insights were gathered. The survey results, reflecting self-assessment scores by PhD students on various research competencies, identified areas where improvement is desired.

This predictive study will be a valuable addition to CATALISI’s deliverables and will be accessible to everyone after the summer. We encourage all stakeholders to stay tuned for further insights into the labor market and research competencies.

By collaborating and leveraging our collective expertise, we can foster a more dynamic and resilient research ecosystem, ultimately driving innovation and societal impact. Together, let’s shape the future of research and innovation.

CATALISI second Webinar “Mainstreaming of Open Science and Digitization of Research”.

The second Webinar was hosted by EY on February 8th: Mainstreaming of Open Science and Digitization of Research”.

The objectives of the webinar include:
🔹 Sharing best practices and research findings on Open Science
🔹 Fostering dialogues and collaboration among experts in this sector
🔹 Identifying Multilingualism as a Catalyst for Open Science

We had the pleasure to count on two incredible speakers:
Tycho Hofstra is a data steward at the University Library of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He Provided good information on open science can become a chore for both researcher and data professional, but doesn’t have to be. Perhaps we can sneak in some fun to make the principles and good practices stick better? In this talk, we’ll look at some of the challenges in getting researchers to talk and think about open science and the ways Dutch university libraries try to break the ice.

Johanna Havemann,Dr. is a trainer and consultant in Open Scholarly Communication Research Project Management. She is also the co-founder and lead coordinator at AfricArXiv – the publishing platform to increase the discoverability of African research accomplishments. With a focus on digital tools for science and her label Access 2 Perspectives, she aims to strengthen globally inclusive science communication and research management through the adoption of Open Science practices. Her speech focused on how to analyzation and encourage a different approach to Open Science through multilingualism.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the chance to listen to the recording in the Learning Hub: https://lnkd.in/dUXaahkb

Mobilisation and Mutual Learning event at UJI

The 19th of January 2024 took place the “Mobilisation and Mutual Learning event: advancing towards Responsible Research Practices in UJI” at Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain.

The meeting was organised by UJI CATALISI members Ramón Feenstra, Laura Bernal, Carlota Carretero, and Elsa Gonzalez and it was attended by CATALISI members from APRE, UCC, UG, KTU, AUTH, AUMC, LUISS and also by some UJI researchers and technical staff. The goals of this event were, on the one hand, to explain the work that has been done at UJI regarding responsible research practices and research integrity and also present inspiring initiatives from other universities. On the other hand, discuss with the participants the ways in which UJI can promote a scale of indicators to measure performance on Open Access (OA) and also how to boost the involvement of UJI’s ethics committee with researchers.

On the first part of the event, three speakers shared their experience improving research assessment and research ethics structures in Spanish universities. First, Margarita Vergara (adjunct Vice-rector of Research at UJI) explained the work done at UJI regarding the transformation of research assessment criteria and also the upcoming challenges. Second, Elsa González Esteban (Vice-rector of Social Policies and CATALISI member) shared the work done in the framework of the ETHNA System project, where a set of tools for RRI were developed: an ethical code, an ethics committee, an ethical hotline and process indicators to report. Last, Alberto Pastor, from Miguel Hernández University (UMH), explained their experience implementing IRIU, a system to measure researchers’ adherence to the UMH guidelines for responsibility in research and also with the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the second part of the event, there was a co-creation session with the rest of the participants dedicated to advancing in the development of research ethics tools. During this session, moderated by Ramón Feenstra and Laura Bernal, CATALISI members and also UJI researchers and technical staff discussed the potential and also the obstacles for the implementation of a scale to measure researchers’ performance on OA and how to improve the work of the UJI ethics committee. Regarding the first topic, some questions such as the need for economic support, the need for a cultural change, making mandatory for projects with public funding to publish in OA or the promotion of role models and PhD teaming in spreading good practices in OA were brought up. Regarding the work of the ethics committee, it was suggested to implement fines or a system for reporting people who violate research integrity or to create a platform for complaints. Also, it was considered helpful for researchers to be able to see the state of the process of going through the ethics committee.

Finally, it is worth noting that, during this event, plenty of interesting ideas, reflections and discussions regarding the current state and the future of research ethics and research assessment came out. It also served to share the current state of this topic in the Spanish context and to suggest specific tools for improving its development.

 

“This event was very fruitful for reflecting about the creation of specific tools for the promotion of research ethics at UJI”
Ramon Feenstra
Associate professor at Jaume I University

CATALISI General Assembly at UJI

On January 18th, the Consortium gathered in Castellón, Spain for the CATALISI first General Assembly bringing inspirational ideas and fruitful discussions!

The meeting  was a great opportunity for the partners to share the achievements of the first year and exchange ideas on the next steps to be taken in the upcoming months.  Amongst the results achieved,  it is worth mentioning: the realization of the  Learning Hub, a digital space for exchanging webinars on topics related to Research & Innovation, the CATALYST Hub, dedicated to the mapping of relevant funding opportunities tailored to higher education institutions, and finally the Community of Practice, a group of people with 116 members from 20 European countries who share expertise and experience in institutional transformation in HEIs.

The General Assembly was even an opportunity for the Higher Education Institutions partners to exchange amongst peers the individual pathway  towards their own institutional transformation, given their specific contexts and challenges. The open discussion allowed to share several ideas on how to accelerate this institutional transformation in the field of Research and Innovation (R&I).

This General Assembly marked a crucial step in the identification of the key actions to be undertaken in 2024 thanks to different co-creation workshops facilitated by ENoLL, AUTH, APRE and F6S. The first co-creation workshop facilitated by APRE “Matchmaking and sharing of expertise from MML and Twinning”, aimed at advancing towards the organization of the Twinning exchanges, that HEIs are expected to perform during the next two years. In order to do so, participants, through a peer-to-peer exchange, validated the results emerged from the Matchmaking analysis and put forward the final proposals for the Twinning activities. Each HEI will visit at least three other HEIs through onsite exchanges, to learn about best practices and take advantage from the expertise provided by the host institution in the intervention areas where they need more support.

APRE also facilitated the workshop on “CoP future perspectives” with the aim to gather feedback and discuss with partners about the ways to best engage and animate the members of the Community of practice for the benefits of the project. Several ideas emerged related to the organization and topic for the next MML online workshop with the CoP, as well as interesting ideas on how to involve the CoP members more actively in CATALISI activities such as including some of them as mentors, coaches or in dissemination activities and in onsite workshops.

 

Discussing transformational changes with the international community of researchers and practitioners

Kaunas university of technology has started CATALISI project in January 2023. Within one year of the implementation, the contours of transformations are already seen. Starting with intensive discussions with university stakeholders and university staff, within 3 big domains of intervention – namely, Human Recourses, Research Modus Operandi and Finances – the project core team identified 5 intervention areas such as Supporting talent circulation/mobility, Accurately addressing lifelong learning, Strengthening of human capital, Public engagement with and outreach to society to solve social challenges, and finally, Sustainability in research.

Addressing on of project objectives which aims to improve methods by which research is conducted and perceived at the regional and European level by ensuring that the R&I systems across Europe are promptly and effective in sharing research outcomes not only to academic actors but also to the broader informed society, project team targeted international community of researchers and practitioners to discuss initial findings and projected pathways towards transformational changes. The project team offered a panel discussion at IASIA 2023 conference, focusing discussion on human resource transformations in VUCA environment. VUCA environment is described as having the characteristics such as volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

 

In order to better understand acceleration services, the discussions included such questions as what is the role of coaching and support mechanism that higher education institutions might apply? What is the role of the environments to foster transformational changes?

Two focal  points emerged in the panel discussion:

  • The role of community of practice. Community of practice is usually understood as group of people who share common interests, concerns, problems, and challenges, exchange knowledge on a common basis while meeting face-to-face or/and online. Several aspects of communities of practices, that are very important for transformational changes, were crystalized at the panel: Interaction on regular terms makes it possible to follow up the transformations, exchanging practices might help seeing intervention areas and the challenges in the different light or from the different angle, developing solutions that are beyond of the “usual suspects” category.
  • The role of the environment. The contemporary world is described as unpredictable and rapidly changing. Thus, the transformational changes is not a innovation but rather a necessity to be in line with the last developments in working culture, technological environment, socio-economic situations. Organizations need novel approaches to leadership, performance and developments. Thus, the discussion covered environmental transformations and the ways organizations innovate adapting to new environments.
By Egle Butkeviciene, Kaunas University of Technology
Horizon Europe project “Catalysation of institutional transformations of Higher Education Institutions through the adoption of acceleration services” (CATALISI), project number 101094917

🌟 An interview with Maria Carmela Fierro, CATALISI’s Project Coordinator

How does your background in Political Science has influenced your career in managing EU Research and Innovation projects?

I think that my degree in Political Science was instrumental in shaping my career in managing EU research and innovation projects, especially at the beginning. My academic background provided me with a strong foundation in understanding EU political dynamics, policy frameworks and EU decision-making processes. This knowledge has been invaluable in navigating the complexities of EU programmes and regulations. However, what I have learnt about projects has been shaped by years of working on different types of projects such as ERC projects, Marie Curie projects, INTERREG projects.

With your extensive experience in supporting organizations in managing EU projects, what would you say are the key challenges and rewards of such roles?

Throughout my career I have been involved in supporting both private and public organisations in managing EU projects. This involvement has allowed me to understand that each organisation has its own priorities and challenges when dealing with EU projects. Therefore, the key challenges often revolve around reconciling these different interests and ensuring effective communication and collaboration between partners. When you see in a project that different organisations – who may never have worked together before – are collaborating to achieve common goals and results, it is something valuable.

CATALISI aims to transform higher education institutions to become lighthouses of European values. Can you elaborate on what these “European values” mean to the project?

European values in the context of CATALISI include principles such as inclusiveness, diversity, sustainability and an overall commitment to excellence in research. The CATALISI project offers a unique opportunity for European higher education institutions to make a deep commitment to advancing these European values, reflecting a vision of higher education institutions that goes beyond academic achievement to encompass societal impact.

As the coordinator of the CATALISI Community of Practice (CoP), what do you envision as the most impactful contributions of the CoP members?

I envision that members of the CATALISI Community of Practice (CoP) can make an impact by fostering a collaborative environment for sharing best practices, innovative ideas and addressing common challenges. The CoP will serve as a hub for collective learning, creating a space where diverse perspectives converge to drive positive change in higher education institutions across Europe.

What would be your call to action for potential members of the CATALISI CoP from education and research to digitalization and policy-making, and why should they join this community?

By participating in the CoP, individuals, experts and/or experienced professionals, can engage in meaningful discussions, share their expertise in a wide range of R&I areas, from open science, public engagement and outreach of research, to lifelong learning, digitisation of research, talent support and circulation, gender and inclusion plans. Today an institutional transformation pathway towards these areas cannot be achieved alone, in a vacuum, it requires a broaden support coming from ideas, stories, methods of a broaden Community of peers. 

In your opinion, what qualities and expertise make an individual an ideal fit for the CATALISI CoP, and how do you see the diverse backgrounds of CoP members enriching the community’s discussions and outputs?

This is quite a challenging question. I would not speak of an ideal CATALISI CoP member in terms of expertise, any background is welcome. I think the ideal CATALISI CoP member is someone who strongly believes in the potential of mutual learning from the experiences of a wide community of stakeholders, who wants to contribute with his/her knowledge and practices on these topics and benefit at the same time from those of others. The ability to collaborate effectively, a passion for promoting European values and a commitment to continuous learning are qualities that will enrich the dynamics of the CoP.

Where do you see the CATALISI project in the next 3 years, and what lasting impact do you hope it will have on European Higher Education Institutions?

In the next 3 years, I believe that CATALISI Higher Education Institutions have planted seeds for their institutional transformation, defined their own pathway which becomes a catalyst for future profound changes also in the long run , fostering an environment where planning and achieving a transformation becomes easier and easier.

How does APRE’s role in CATALISI, especially in knowledge sharing, mutual learning, and coordinating the Community of Practice, contribute to the broader objectives of the project?

APRE’s role is meant to facilitate the creation of this environment, contributing to knowledge sharing, mutual learning, in providing a methodology for capacity building, as well as by facilitating collaboration and information exchange amongst the CoP.

Transformation of the University of Gdansk towards Sustainable Development – Selected Activities and Initiatives.

Today’s societies are confronted with a number of challenges, which are recognised and defined in the United Nations resolution “Transforming our world. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), with the capacity to educate graduates aware of contemporary civilisation challenges, have been involved in supporting the implementation of the Agenda’s goals.

The University of Gdańsk pays particular attention to sustainable development, the social responsibility of the university and its role in social impact. This is reflected in the development strategy and mission of the University of Gdansk, which is to provide education, scientific activity and shape civic attitudes by addressing challenges and problems oriented towards supporting sustainable development, i.e. one that takes into account the well-being of future generations.

As the largest university in the region, it educates more than 21,000 students in 89 fields of study and conducts research in 24 scientific disciplines at 11 faculties and two International Research Agencies, undertaking institutional activities in science, teaching and cooperation with the socio-economic environment in these areas. In 2023, the university maintained its first position in the Times Higher Education Impact ranking among Polish universities.

This article presents the most important activities undertaken by the university in recent years in the field of sustainable development focusing on university-wide activities and those undertaken by the Faculty of Economics of the University of Gdańsk, which has significant achievements in this area.

The Centre for Sustainable Development of the University of Gdańsk (CZRUG)

The institutional transformation of the university towards greater sustainability can be divided into several areas. The first involves the university’s commitment to social engagement. In 2017. The University of Gdańsk was one of the first Polish universities to sign the Declaration on the Social Responsibility of Universities and, as a consequence, has its representation in the working group operating at the Team for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility – a subsidiary body of the Minister of Funds and Regional Policy. It reports and disseminates its activities in this area in the Catalogue of Good Practices of Universities in ESG areas, which are published annually.

In 2019, the Commission for Social Responsibility was established at the University of Gdansk with the task of pursuing the strategic objective included in the “Strategy of the University of Gdansk for 2020-2025”, formulated as “Openness, social responsibility and engagement of the University”, building an academic community based on an academic culture of equality and developing and implementing a coherent monitoring system for gender equality.

Over the past few years, university-wide units have been established within the organisational structure of the University of Gdansk, which have taken and are taking action for sustainable development within the scope of their competences. On the area of cooperation and development, these include the Office of Analysis and Expertise, the Centre for Sustainable Development, and the Centre for Marine Research. The decisions to establish them have affected not only the university itself, but also its environment, by promoting education and disseminating knowledge for sustainable development through the exchange of scientific knowledge and experience between researchers of social and economic phenomena and strengthening cooperation between representatives of various scientific disciplines with business.

Established in 2017, the Centre for Analysis and Expertise, now the Office of Analysis and Expertise, as part of its activities initiates and builds collaborative networks for the implementation of research and expert opinions on issues such as: good quality education (objective 4), clean water and sanitation (objective 6), clean and accessible energy (objective 7), innovation, industry, infrastructure (objective 9), climate action (objective 13), life under water (objective 14), life on land (objective 15).   An important aspect of the Bureau’s activities is to bring together researchers representing different scientific disciplines of the University of Gdansk and to obtain commissions for research, expert opinions, opinions on topics relevant to sustainable development. Recently, the Office of Analysis and Expertise has managed complex projects concerning pre-investment studies and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of artificial islands in the Baltic Sea. These studies covered a wide range of parameters including: noise, marine mammals, ichthyofauna. The Office of Analysis and Expertise coordinates the CALALISI project on the part of the University of Gdansk, paying particular attention to ESG and SDG issues.

In view of the increasing priority given to sustainable development issues, a unit dedicated to the SDGs  – the Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD) – was established at the University of Gdansk in 2021. In addition to conducting research, the Centre carries out projects to educate and promote the idea of sustainable development among the academic community and in the socio-economic environment. It operates on the basis of 7 substantive programmes: Research and Projects, International Cooperation, Education for Sustainable Development, Green University, Cooperation with the Social Environment, Culturally about Sustainable Development, Conversations about Sustainable Development and one practical one: the Internship Programme. The Centre undertakes specific educational activities for sustainable development by creating or co-creating, among others, postgraduate programmes on sustainable development such as: Education for Sustainable Development: offshore wind energy, Outdoor EducationMitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change. Centre’s activities also focus on raising awareness of sustainability through cultural activities, e.g. through the implementation of projects, a virtual bookshelf; the organisation of meetings on the challenges of the modern world: “Difficult migrations. On the refugee crisis once again’, ‘For Ukraine, with Ukraine. Experiences and perspectives’, “Good education in times of crisis” or active participation in international events: Global Crusade e-culture for all (Latin America-Europe Cultural Ring). The Green University programme, in turn, implements initiatives to reduce the university’s carbon footprint by: using green energy from renewable sources, implementing procedures to reduce electricity and heat consumption and waste generation, applying CSR (cooperate social resposibility) procedures in public procurement.

The Centre coordinates or participates in national and international research, teaching and development projects:

 We zero emissions – knowledge transfer from the University of Gdansk

The project includes activities to popularise anti-emissions, aimed at students and teachers of primary and secondary schools in Pomerania, as well as students and university staff. 

TOWNSHIP – Towards Sustainable Beautiful and Inclusive Cities  

The project will result in three Intensive International Training Programmes (IMPK) to increase the internationalisation of UG’s educational offer

CIR-CO-WAY – Polish-Norwegian way to the circular cooperation in industrial, science and technology parks  

The project is about Polish-Norwegian cooperation to increase the competence and role of science, industry and technology parks in green transformation, especially in the context of a circular economy. 

REGIONS2030: Monitoring the SDGs in EU regions – filling the data gaps

The aim of the project is to develop indicators for monitoring the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the NUTS II level of the European Union.

RE-WIRING – Realising Girls’ and Women’s Inclusion, Representation and Empowerment

The aim of the RE-WIRING project is to analyse the prevailing legal, political, social and cultural and educational approaches that contribute to discrimination against women and girls with a view to change, by redesigning existing legal, policy and institutional approaches. 

The Faculty of Economics at the University of Gdansk is one of 11 faculties at the University of Gdansk that stands out for its SDG and ESG activities. Many departmental initiatives have inspired representatives of academic disciplines other than economics and finance. 

The selected sustainability activities of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Gdansk are:

SDG 1: Individual support in the form of suspension of university fees in special cases, such as a pandemic or war in Ukraine. Participation in activities at local and regional level to combat poverty in all its dimensions.

SDG 2: Actions to disseminate knowledge on food security and rational use of food. Participation in collections organised as part of World Food Day.

SDG 3: Launching the first degree course in Telemedicine and projects in health care Health Care Technology. Participation in the preparation of a study on efficiency problems in the functioning COVID-19 vaccination system. Organisation of a collection of daily necessities for the Hospice House (Student Business Club). Participation in the #StudentsForUkraine campaign.

SDG 4: Organisation of events open to the community environment, including primary and secondary schools. Interactive lectures and workshops, science cafés and competitions for young people as part of the project “Science Clubs at the University of Gdansk – known and unknown faces of science”, Fridays with Logistics, World Entrepreneurship Day, Sustainable Development Day, Open Days of the Faculty of Economics.

SDG 5: There are two public drinking water dispensers in the faculty building. Toilets are installed with water saving valves, mixer taps with water mixers.

SDG 6: Since 2021, the lighting in the faculty has been successively replaced with nergy-efficient lighting (replacement of fixtures and fluorescent lamps with led lamps). Development of study offerings in the field of renewable nergy sources. A specialisation in offshore marine sectors has been launched in the economics faculty, which fits in with the concept of the blue economy and responds to market signals.

SDG 7: Establishment of the HR Excellence in Research Strategy Implementation and Monitoring Team. Its tasks include analysing the needs in relation to the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for Staff Recruitment in the implementation of the HR Strategy and monitoring the needs and corrective actions taken.

SDG 8: Introduce facilities for people with disabilities. Elimination of architectural barriers.

SDG 10: Implement community education campaigns on climate change risks, mitigation and reduction.

SDG 11: Undertake research and educational activities to support the protection of marine ecosystems.

SDG 12: Conduct research on inland navigation and maritime and road transport that will take into account the protection of ecosystems and their diversity.

SDG 13: Collaborate with local, regional and national authorities by providing their expert support and delivering research results to, among others: Pomeranian Investment Council for Reimbursable Instruments, Task Force for Integrated Development Policy of Poland and Europe of the Committee for Spatial Planning of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Mobility and Transport Council at the President of the City of Gdańsk, Expert Council for Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans at the Minister of Infrastructure.

SDG 14: Involvement in educational activities on sustainable development that are socially relevant and addressed to all students, e.g. an Oxford debate tournament for secondary schools on the topic of social responsibility of science. Organisation of a Congress of Economic and Environmental Student Circles on sustainability with the participation of students, pupils and their parents.

There is an ESG Working Team in the department. This is a research team that has formed at the Pomeranian ESG Forum. The first activity of the team is the creation of an ESG report for one of the Tri-City non-profit organisations. This provides the basis for a research analysis of the problems that small and medium-sized enterprises that have decided to report on sustainability and those in the supply chains of reporting companies may encounter. The Directive requires large companies to review their supply (value) chains for ESG compliance. As a result, ESG reporters will require a lot of data from their collaborators that was not previously required. These relate to issues such as employment or greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiative of the Faculty of Economics also includes the Pomeranian ESG Forum. These are cyclical meetings organised for entrepreneurs with the aim of creating a space for business and academics to jointly exchange experiences in the field of ESG and support each other in implementing sustainability criteria in business practice. The 2nd meeting of the Pomeranian Forum will take place later in 2023. And will be dedicated to raising finance for sustainable business. The first Forum was about an introduction to ESG and attracted a lot of interest from companies – a total of more than 90 people signed up, more than 70 actively participated. Our main success is that businesses want to build such a space together with us and are themselves volunteering to present their concept of ESG action as part of the Forum. We, in turn, get the opportunity to define real economic problems faced by entrepreneurs. 

The department organises the competition, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Science, which attracts more than 6,000 students from schools across the country every year. One of the main thematic areas is the sustainability of the TSL (transport, forwarding and logistics) sector. This year, the first-level competition (the competition is a three-stage event) took place on 17 November 2023.

In terms of staff training, the postgraduate course in ESG – ESG Manager, which responds to the needs of businesses in relation to non-financial reporting, deserves particular attention.

The activities of the Faculty of Economics in the field of sustainable development are reflected in the coordinated and ongoing international research, development and teaching projects.

CE4CE “Public Transport Infrastructure in Central Europe – facilitate transitioning to circular economy”

The CE4CE project is reducing the environmental footprint of public transport by using circular economy principles. 

SPINE “Smart Public transport Initiatives for Climate-Neutral cities in Europe”  

SPINE’s vision is to accelerate progress towards climate neutrality by strengthening public transport systems through their smart integration with new mobility services, sharing schemes, active transport modes and micromobility. 

SUMPs for BSR “Enhancing effective Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning for supporting active mobility in BSR cities”  

The project supports cities in changing their planning practices towards people-centred sustainable urban mobility planning, promoting active modes of transport and supporting active and healthy lifestyles of citizens, while reducing traffic emissions. 

The CATALISI team from University of Gdansk is involved in many of the above sustainability activities.

Adamczuk Monika, MSc; Director of the Cooperation and Development Office

Borkowski Przemysław, PhD, DSc; Vice Dean for Science ans Internationalization, Faculty of Economics

Czerepko Joanna, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Transport Market, Faculty of Economics, Member of the ESG Working Team, Organiser of Pomeranian ESF Forum, Member of SPINE project

Disterheft Izabela, MSc; Employee of the Office for Analysis and Experice,

Markiewicz Katarzyna, PhD; CATALISI technical manager, Employee of the Office for Analysis and Experice,

Mrozowska Sylwia, PhD, DSc; Vice-Rector for Cooperation and Development

Susmarski Sebastian, PhD; CATALISI project manager, Director of the Office for Analysis and Experice,

Szmelter-Jarosz Agnieszka, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Logistic, Faculty of Economics, Member of C4CE project, SPINE project, SUMPs for BSR project

Tłoczyński Dariusz, PhD, DSc; Head, Department of Transport Market, Faculty of Economics

First CATALISI webinar: Gender and Inclusion in Higher Education

First webinar held on November 23, 2023

The Webinar on Gender and Inclusion in Higher Education aimed to achieve several key goals, including the dissemination of best practices and research findings in the realm of gender and inclusion within higher education. 

Additionally, the webinar sought to pinpoint actionable strategies to advance gender equality and promote inclusion within the higher education landscape. The success of the event can be attributed to the insightful contributions of two distinguished speakers who are experts in the field of Gender and Inclusion in Higher Education. Namely:

Sabina Pellizzoni a technologist at INFN (National Institute for Nuclear Physics), and she is the coordinator Gender Mentoring programme INFN: the first gender mentoring in an Italian research institution. Sabina is an INFN Team member for GENERA Network and she is external expert of the GETA Observatory CNR IRPPS: for updating and analysing data and monitoring gender balance issues.

Magdalena Zadkowska an Assistant professor in Sociology Institute at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Gdańsk, Principal Investigator, Academic Teacher, Expert, focused on women and men carriers in STEM, diversity management, intimate relations and gender studies. Cooperates in international research projects with Norway, USA, Canada, UK, Italy, Romania, Chile and France.

Their diverse backgrounds in physics and sociology brought a multifaceted perspective to the topic, enriching the discussions. Notably, the speakers presented best practices in advancing gender equality and fostering inclusion om higher education contexts, providing valuable insights for the audience. The engaged audience demonstrated a profound interest in the subject matter, creating a dynamic space for mutual learning. This collaborative environment facilitated the exchange of research results, personal insights, and backgrounds, ultimately strengthening cooperation among European universities and institutions.

Check out the Learning Hub for materials and recordings of all upcoming workshops!

In case you missed the first wbinar, you can watch the recording also here:

First CoP Workshop: A Leap Towards Transformative Research and Innovation

First CoP workshop held on November 7, 2023

The aim of the first CoP Mobilization and Mutual Learning (MML) workshop was to share key insights from previous EU-funded projects and successful experiences on institutional transformation in Research and Innovation that can be of inspiration to the Community of Practice. This also contributed to accelerating the transformation of universities in different areas of intervention.

After an insightful introduction on the CATALSI policy context by Stijn Delaure, from DG RTD, the four speakers illustrated their projects, stories and experiences followed by an engaging session of questions and answers. . The contribution of three H2020-funded project representatives (TIMES4SC, GRACE, Co-Change) was enormously beneficial to share with participants processes and challenges linked to institutional transformation implementation. The event was opened and closed by the coordinator of CATALISI, APRE.  

In the words of Laura Mentini, the workshop was proven to be successful in gathering a wide pool of experts and professionals in the field of institutional transformation of higher Education Institutions around the priorities of the European Research Agenda. 

The variety of participants attending the event, the engaging presentations and questions from the audience illustrates the profound interest on the topic as well as the urgent need to continue creating mutual learning spaces to share tools, advice and knowledge on how to promote and consolidate Research and Innovation transformations at university level as well as strengthening European Universities collaborations and alliances.
Laura Mentini
Project Manager, APRE

Our event speakers were:

Stijn Delaure, Policy Officer, ERA, Spreading Excellence, Research Careers DG for Research and Innovation – European Commission, Belgium; responsible for policy development in support of higher education sector, research management and research careers, in the context of the new European Research Area (ERA). 

Eugenia Vilarchao, Science Officer, Inclusive Science cluster, European Science Foundation; works on EC-funded projects with a primary focus on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) such as SUPPORTER and TIME4CS, where her expertise centres on Gender Equality, Citizen Science, and Public Engagement. She also significantly contributes to integrating RRI principles into various research projects (RESIST, ENFIELD, MOBI-TWIN). In the frame of the GRACE-RRI project, she was part of the coordination team and lead the implementation of Institutional Changes on RRI within the ESF. 

Ciro Franco, Head of National Research Support Office and Coordinator of HRS4R Management Committee at Sapienza Università di Roma. The National Research Support Office promotes the participation of Sapienza researchers to research funding opportunities at national and regional level, including PNRR funds. He has a long experience as expert and vice-chair within evaluation panels for R&I projects in the context of Horizon funding programme. 

Mila Grahovac, Associate Professor, University of Novi Sad; an associate professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad. Although her main field of expertise is phytopathology and biological and other alternative tools for plant disease management, from 2018 she is actively involved in RRI, particularly in gender equality and public engagement in RPO. She is working on integrating GE and PE at institutional level at Faculty of Agriculture and she was leader of the RRIzing lab in the Horizon 2020 project Co-Change.  

Claudia Iasillo, Project Manager, APRE focusing on science and society relationship. She has been involved in several EU funded projects (e.g. RURITAGE, SISCODE, QUEST, FETFX, HOLiFOOD) and she is coordinating the H2020 project TIME4CS and the HE project BlueRev.   

Next action steps:  

The Community of Practice members will be involved in the CATALISI project activities and events at both national and European level, according to their geographical focus and expertise, to continue sharing their methods, tools and stories.  An online platform has been created to stimulate participants in common discussions. The second MML online event will be organized by APRE for the Community of Practice members, and further details will be shared soon. 

Learn more about joining the Community of Practice on our dedicated page and check out the Learning Hub for materials and recordings of all upcoming workshops!

In case you missed the first CoP, you can watch the recording also here: