Transform4Europe | vision
TRANSFORMING EUROPE BY EDUCATING AND TRAINING KNOWLEDGE ENTREPRENEURS
Transformation at all levels is both a reality and a necessity, and must be addressed through a global approach. These complex processes will affect all actors, including universities. Ultimately, these actors must decide between being either individual spectators and passive recipients of the results of these transformations, or becoming an integral part of them, proactive in working with joined forces in order to become drivers of the transformation process as a whole.
Universities can play an important role in European transformation processes by educating and training students, staff and stakeholders from their surrounding regions, creating new knowledge, developing research, and delivering solutions for major current and future societal challenges. Similarly, the regions in which universities operate are cornerstones of the transformation process as the direct frames of reference and the economic and social environments for all actors and important intermediators between the individual and the European level.
We believe that universities can help to transform Europe by organizing themselves in permanent, structured and coherent multi-actor networks that make a major contribution at a systemic level according to their vision, needs, ambitions, experience and capacities. In this way, they can become active agents of transformation and change, and powerful engines for the mutual development of each other’s innovation and performance capacity. Together, they can contribute to the development of a European knowledge-based economy, better employment rates, European identity, civic engagement and welfare. This is a powerful way to improve the competitiveness of the EU as a whole and the further integration of the EEA.
In addition, Europe needs smarter regions to tackle the challenges of our time – smarter, sustainable knowledge ecosystems that make effective use of new technologies and transform their traditional economies into climate neutral, sustainable models of development in which the universities play a central role. Yet the potential of university-region cooperation in the European transformation process has not yet been fully exploited; researchers collaborate with regional stakeholders at an individual level, but there is often a lack of structured collaboration at an institutional level. The Transform4Europe alliance sees a need for new models and strategies harness this potential and network university-region cooperation throughout Europe in order to achieve a greater impact. As a response to this necessity, the Transform4Europe universities will join forces with key players from their regions in order to educate and train not only highly qualified experts, but also European knowledge entrepreneurs who can act as dynamic agents of transformation through a networked, applied, multi-actor approach.
The knowledge-entrepreneurs that Europe needs are by definition capable of recognizing, seizing and creating opportunities and acting on them in order to contribute to innovation and change. Knowledge-entrepreneurship differs from the traditional economic concept of entrepreneurship in that it does not aim at producing or maximizing monetary profit, but rather the enhancement of knowledge production and the development of knowledge and expertise through an applied approach. The Transform4Europe alliance complements this concept of knowledge entrepreneurship with a more social, value-based dimension towards comprehensive social responsibility and European citizenship. The transformational Transform4Europe knowledge-entrepreneurial mind-set is characterized by specific competencies (creating new values, reconciling tensions and dilemmas, taking responsibility) and specific knowledge (systemic, critical, generative and reflexive, with both societal and scientific impact). In this sense, the entrepreneurial mind-set at the heart of the Transform4Europe alliance can be differentiated from the concept of entrepreneurial universities as defined previously by the European Commission and the OECD.
Transform4Europe knowledge-entrepreneurs are global citizens capable of being critical towards the current status quo, demonstrating an integrative, applied approach across diverse European cultures, understanding and dealing with complex systems, and applying interdisciplinary and co-creational approaches to problem-solving. They dispose of a comprehensive set of knowledge to grasp social, cultural, economic and political consequences in a world of interconnected economies, ecosystems and climate patterns where the local is inseparable from the global. They are equipped with the necessary skills to contribute to Europe’s development towards a green and sustainable continent characterized by strong values of peace, justice, social cohesion, inclusiveness and active citizenship, and with a shared sense of European identity as an underlying principle. They transform Europe from within through networked engagement across the Transform4Europe regions. Their transformative knowledge-entrepreneurial spirit will help to turn creative ideas into reality, thus contributing to solving the major challenges Europe is facing today.