Unlocking multiple forms of excellence and widening innovation through University-Business Cooperation

university-business innovation

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is technology-driven. It requires organisations to harness technology, people, physical and digital spaces into new products and services, in order to thrive in knowledge-based and inclusive societies.

Already in 1995, the American economist Clay Christensen defined disruptive innovation as the means to create new markets and value networks that eventually disrupt existing markets.

Innovation has been at the heart of EU policy for many years. In her Agenda for Europe, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underlines the importance of research and innovation to tackle key challenges in Europe – climate change, technological disruption, health and demography – all accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent European Innovation Council report highlights that “the local and global connectedness between stakeholders is critical to improve innovation networks[1]“. The Quadruple Helix Model in which government, industry, academia and civil society cooperate is at the heart of the innovation process.

Social innovation has recently regained attention, among others with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Universities and businesses are adopting new approaches for societal relevance. Multiple voices from civil society organisations, NGOs and the public advocate for more inclusive societal and economic growth, arguing that the benefits of an innovation-led economy can only be fully maximised when these are widely distributed.

The reflection paper “Unlocking systemic innovation excellence through UBC” addresses this issue. It identifies key aspects to foster university-business cooperation: make sure to define the environment, develop tools accessible by all players and ask for support from public bodies. It is available for online consultation.


EFMD has participated in more than 40 internationally funded projects in the field of quality assurance, internationalisation, entrepreneurship and university-business cooperation. The EFMD International Projects department regularly invites business schools and universities to join new project proposals and develop new initiatives. More information about the projects and the current opportunities can be found on the EFMD website.


[1] https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/c7552948-f6fc-11ea-991b-01aa75ed71a1