European project links universities to boost innovation

The Mediterranean Innovation Alliance, or MEDINNOALL, project, aimed to promote research and development as well as technology and industrial upgrading. Its outcomes will be discussed at a regional event to be held in Morocco next month.

Nizar Ayadi, coordinator of the MEDINNOALL project, told University World News: “Ensuring stronger relevance of universities in the context of their economic environments and enhancing universities’ contributions to national and regional economic and innovation performance are among the most topical issues.”

The MEDINNOALL project worked to promote innovative thinking in higher education in the Mediterranean and strengthen the ability of universities to collaborate and conduct research.

Co-financed by the European Union (EU) in the framework of the TEMPUS IV programme, the MEDINNOALL consortium comprised five European partners – four universities and a chamber of commerce – and 12 universities and four business associations in four of the North African countries.

It has been supported by the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, the Ministry of Education of Morocco and the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technology in Tunisia.

Ayadi said that during the first half of the project, a Mediterranean Alliance on Knowledge Transfer and Innovation was created to facilitate exchange of information and revision of best practices and “a deeper reflection of EU partners’ experiences and partner universities’ needs in the strategic implementation of knowledge transfer structures and technology audit schemes”.

Twelve centres of excellence in knowledge transfer were set up in North African higher education institutions to support cooperation between universities and enterprises.

The North African universities were equipped with the knowledge and methodologies needed to operate consulting services for enterprises in the areas of technology and innovation audits.

The consortium also developed and published strategic guides for promoting knowledge transfer and innovation in enterprises and university strategies. The guides have been translated into French and Arabic and disseminated among stakeholders in the region.

National conferences and local innovation forums were organised to discuss the project’s objectives, results and services, create synergies, ensure political and business support for the project results and increase the project's visibility, and promote the new technology transfer offices.

Training programmes and modules were developed in order to create a cadre of knowledge transfer professionals and promote an innovation culture and entrepreneurship in higher education institutions, enhance links with industry and promote technology transfer offices, intellectual property rights and valorisation of research results.

“The project is still running and we will finalise the action by the end of 2013,” Ayadi told University World News.