NUI Galway is to lead a new European project to bring a new entrepreneurial focus to higher education in collaboration with ENLIGHT partner institutions.
i2i (Idea to Impact) will train more than 800 students and 300 staff over two years to look beyond the boundaries of their own disciplines, to think innovatively and enhance the start-up ecosystem in a network of universities and colleges.
The project is open to students, as well as academic, professional services and research staff, across several European institutions to develop a more entrepreneurial mind-set in the disciplines of health, technology, climate, culture and creativity.
NUI Galway and its’ partners including ENLIGHT institutions, Comenius University, Bratislava, University of the Basque Country and its associated Euskampus Fundazioa, together with universities in Greece and Bulgaria have been awarded €1.2 million from the European Union’s Horizon Programme and European Institute of Technology Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education for the i2i project.
Professor Becky Whay, NUI Galway Vice-President International, said: “The i2i project epitomises much of what NUI Galway is achieving through its globalisation project Global Galway and ENLIGHT is a key strategic pillar of this. We are delighted to collaborate with our ENLIGHT partners in Comenius and the University of the Basque Country. Additionally, the network that is being developed by i2i and the ideas behind the project complement our University values and will make a significant difference in addressing our capacity and capability to foster entrepreneurship and to develop our university as an engine for innovative thinking.”
NUI Galway Co-Principal Investigators on the project, Dr Tony Hall, Deputy Head of School of Education, and Natalie Walsh, Director of Entrepreneurial Development said: “i2i will promote and support innovation in health, technology, climate, culture and creativity, through the collaboration of higher education institutions with organisations and partners across five entrepreneurial ecosystems: Ireland, Spain, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Greece. We look forward to demonstrating the potential of the west of Ireland as a leader in the entrepreneurship domain and working with like-minded partners from across Europe to build innovation capacity through partnership and create a foundation for future funding in this space.”
The i2i project will run for two years from July 2021 and builds on two flagship programmes at NUI Galway. ENLIGHT, a key pillar of the University’s Globalisation strategy, and the innovative Designing Futures, which is being rolled out across the University to enhance student experience as part of the Irish Government’s Human Capital Initiative.
Fernando Tapia, vice rector of Students Affairs and Employability of the University of the Basque Country underlined that “i2i is an excellent example of the capacity of the ENLIGHT alliance to leverage projects of its partners.”
Igor Camprillo, Director of the Euskampus Fundazioa, asserted, "the i2i project is a unique opportunity to foster innovation and entrepreneurial university-based ecosystems that are both anchored to the regions, and creating international collaboration. The i2i project gives Euskampus a privileged opportunity to keep on working with the University of the Basque Country to enhance the connection of the University with the region by promoting innovation pathways engaging students, educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, and the active participation of societal organisations."
Prof. Jozef Masarik, Vice-Rector for Science, Doctoral Studies and Projects at Comenius University outlined that “The mentorship and fellowship programmes of the i2i project and the ethos of systemic exchange of knowledge and good practice will be the source of change of mind-set of Comenius University staff and students, who will then become the carriers and disseminators of the tradition of entrepreneurial HEIs.”
The i2i project will also include the development of a shared Innovation Vision Action Plan to identify the improvements being targeted for each higher education institution and how to address gaps through knowledge exchange, collaboration, programmes and partnership.