Major global disruptive innovations are forcing businesses to go deeper in innovating their processes or business models. The need to look for new ways to co-innovate with external partners has grown. This has also opened a gap to both educate different industry actors on co-innovation and to connect corporates, startups and universities to one another. Our EU-funded project CORSHIP Corporate Edupreneurship was designed to do precisely these things.
The major digital transformation of businesses and universities during the pandemic has further increased opportunities for collaboration between the two parties. This calls to further examine the possibilities and learn from existing collaborations.
In this blog I wish to share the main lessons learned from higher education institution (HEI) and business collaboration in jointly providing digital education, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and a micro-credential on co-innovation.
CORSHIP – Corporate Edupreneurship
The CORSHIP project has brought together seven European partners representing universities, corporates, startups and innovation networks. The three main results co-created in the project were targeted towards managers, entrepreneurs and HEI students.
The first result was a MOOC, Co-innovation Journey for Start-ups and Corporates, for over 2400 learners. The second result was a MicroCredential (a modular, flexible format stemming from MOOCs) for 42 selected learners from the MOOC. The third result was a unique Toolbox (guidelines, tools for 5.000+ users) to facilitate the collaboration between startups, corporates and universities.
A closer look at the collaboration
The CORSHIP-consortium successfully co-created the aimed results. However, the collaboration came with its own challenges and benefits.
The main challenges were:
- The differing organizational structures and cultures
The smaller business organizations were more flexible and had less hierarchy. Thus, they were able to make rapid decisions and changes. They smoothly integrated results into their existing structures. The more hierarchical HEIs were not as flexible in integrating results and courses to existing curriculum structures with differing contents and timing.
There were misunderstandings from time to time and it became clear that especially specific terms have multiple meanings and need to be defined early on in the project. This was further challenged when forced to collaborate online.
- Managing a project with versatile consortium members
Bringing people together from different countries and organizations impacted the management of individual expectations. Coordination required more time.
The main benefits of our collaboration were:
- Knowledge transfer
Businesses offer the latest practical knowledge and academia brings in theory, research and pedagogical knowledge.
- Building a global reputation
The project helped all parties to build international reputation and networks by reaching wider and diverse audiences.
- Responding to changing needs
Universities need new partners to follow digital educational trends and to respond to the changing needs of working life. Businesses need re- and upskilling for their staff, latest research knowledge and potential employees.
Main lessons learned
Over two years of CORSHIP collaboration has made us understand how important it is to put strong emphasis on giving all team members a chance to get to know one another and build strong relations both physically and online.
We also see the importance of investing enough time for organizing and coordinating when a large group of diverse people come together to complete a task. Lastly, we wish to highlight the importance of creating a clear framework for deliverables with a shared goal from the beginning of project planning.
In long-term, universities should aim to build a community based on sustainable networks between partners, external stakeholders and learners, with a common goal of learning and sharing ideas on co-innovation. The points discussed in this blog may shed some light on what should be considered in building these partnerships and working in joint projects.
FH JOANNEUM – University of Applied Sciences, Graz (AT), Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (FI), University of Economics Krakow (PL), Hasso Plattner Institute (DE), Beta-i (PT), AVL List Gmbh (AT) & European Startup Network (BE)