“We are committed to the encouragement of high quality research”

Research of Excellence

The ECIU universities are research-intensive universities which are committed to the encouragement of high quality research. They have been very successful in getting European funding (H2020 and FP 7) for research and innovation projects.
The ECIU Board wishes to clearly encourage the researchers to work together and develop innovative projects with the member universities. ECIU has a track record in close collaboration between research groups and new emerging industries. Therefore, the ECIU network offers promising opportunities for research collaborations. The following examples show the collective wealth of experience and expertise in innovative education and research.

featured joint project

The Role of Universities in Innovation and Regional Development

RUNIN is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Network involving regional development agencies and seven universities, six of which are ECIU partner universities:

  • Aalborg University
  • Linköping University
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • University of Aveiro
  • University of Stavanger
  • University of Twente
  • Lincoln University (not a member of ECIU)

Runin was recently awarded funding of more than 3.7 million Euro by the EU.

The aim of the RUNIN network program is to train researchers on how universities contribute to innovation and economic growth in their regions through research seeking to examine how universities fulfill their third mission in relation to regional industry and explore the range of university engagement with regional firms and institutions.

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featured joint project

Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement in Higher Education

The objective of the TEFCE project is to develop innovative and feasible policy tools at the university and European level for supporting, monitoring and assessing the community engagement of higher education institutions.


  • Center of Higher Education Policy Studies
  • Kennispunt Twente
  • Associació Catalana d'Universitats Públiques
  • Dublin University
  • Dublin City Council
  • PPMI
  • University of Rijeci
  • Techschnische Universität Dresden
  • Ghent University
  • Institute for the Development of Education (Croatia)
  • ECIU

Project duration
1 January 2018 - 31 December 2020.

European Commission, Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 3, Forward LookingCooperation Projects (grant agreement: 590200-EPP-1-2017-1-DE-EPPKA3-PI-FORWARD)

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All Joint Projects

Colibri: Collaboration Innovation Teaching Learning

Colibri is an innovation teaching project, funded by the Erasmus Plus programme of the European Union, key action Strategic Partnerships. Colibri will specifically address the purposes of:

  • Enhancing the quality and relevance of of the learning offer in education by developing new and innovative approaches, and by supporting the dissemination of best practices.
  • Increase labour market relevance of learning provision and qualifications.
  • Promote the take-up of innovative practices in education by supporting personalised learning approaches, collaborative learning, by making use of ICT and Open Educational Resources, and by exploring the use of blended and virtual mobility.

The results and dissemination activities are designed to ensure that Colibri will have a strong systemic impact on both participating organisations and outsiders. 

Key elements here are the active involvement of teachers, who will become ambassadors of the results, and the openly available results that makes it easy for other university teachers to exploit the methods and materials developed during the project.
Colibri started in September 2014 and lasts for three years.


Hamburg University of Technology
University of Aalborg
University of Stavanger  
Riga University of Technology
University of Technology and Life Science in Bydgoszczy
Universitat Politechnika de Catalunya
Ethniko Idryma Erevnon atene KOM GmbH Talaia Networks S.L.  

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Development of Sustainable Interrelations between Education, Research and Innovation at WBC Universities in Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials where Innovation Means Business

The WIMB project will enhance capacities of HE institutions in WBC region, by developing sustainable interrelations between Education, Research and Innovation in Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials, for applications in medical and industrial engineering. The project will develop a common understanding between various actors of research and innovation (university, research centers, spin-off companies) in WBC and EU, in highly novel research areas, where specific methodologies for innovation transfer are of the utmost importance for voluntary convergence with EU developments in accordance with Europe 2020 strategy and Smart growth flagship initiative as a new engine to boost growth and jobs. This will improve transfer of innovation from University to regional enterprises, enhancing their innovation potential.

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Autonomous University of Barcelona - UAB, Spain (lead)
Dublin City University - DCU, Ireland 
University of Kragujevac - UNIKG
Serbia, University of Nis - UNI, Serbia, INNOVENT e.V. Technologieentwicklung Jena, Germany
University of Banja Luka - UBL, Bosnia and Herzegovina
University of East Sarajevo - UES, Bosnia and Herzegovina
University of Montenegro - UME, Montenegro, SCREVO
Netherland, Endor Nanotechnologies, S.L., Spain
Technical University of Crete - TUC, Greece
Laboratorio Tecnologia Medica, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli -
IOR, Italy
University of Birmingham - UoB,
University College of London,UCL, UK,
Foundation University Enterprise of the Region of Murcia - FUERM, Spain

SEFORÏS - Social Entrepreneurship as a Force for more Inclusive and Innovative Societies

The SEFORÏS project is a multi-disciplinary, multi-method international research project on social enterprise funded by the European Commission. Through the generation of robust evidence and a focus on internationally leading research, SEFORÏS aims to better understand the role that social enterprises play in the EU and beyond in the development of and evolution towards inclusive and innovative societies. Seforis sets out to explore the role of social entrepreneurs in reforming European societies, and societies outside Europe. Social entrepreneurs constitute a niche (statistically speaking); they run ventures that are primarily in the business of creating significant societal value, and do so in an entrepreneurial, market-oriented way. To analyze the complex phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, we rely on systems theory thinking (e.g. Praszkier & Nowak, 2012), organized thinking using systems ideas consciously organized around several important observations about social enterprises, such as:

  • Inclusiveness
  • Civic capitalism
  • Innovativeness
  • New models for services
  • Diversity of forms
  • Operating across vastly different contexts

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Universidade de Aveiro
KU Leuven
Hertie School of Governance
Centre for Economics and Financial Research
SITE at Stockholm School of Economics
Aston Business School

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COMMIT - COMMITing to the social dimension in Universities

COMMIT intends to increase commitment to the social dimension of higher education (HE) and support strategies for increasing attainment. The project builds on the work of a previous project – ALLUME* – which developed 3 self evaluation tools for universities to review their strategy for implementation of a comprehensive and coherent LLL university.


  • Improve and enhance the social dimension of higher education in universities in Europe
  • Support the development of a comprehensive strategy for promoting and monitoring increased levels of attainment in HE
  • Firmly embed the social dimension in the strategy and practice of universities, particularly in those countries which had below average attainment rates in tertiary education in 2011
  • To promote and support a commitment to change in universities in Europe
  • To embed the policy and practice of ULLL in a strategy of wider social interaction.

EUCEN, European University Continuing Education Network (BE) University of Aveiro (PT)
Dublin City University (IE)
Université catholique de Louvain (BE)
University of Turku (FI)
University of Brest (FR)
University of Stuttgart (DE)
Bogaziçi University (TR)
University of Genoa (IT)
University of Ioannina (GR)
University of Iaisi (RO)
University Rovira i Virgili (ES)
University Pecs (HU)

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Bullies, Bullied and Bystanders: Advancing Knowledge, Understanding and Practice in Education

Building upon 20 years of research on bullying at ABC National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre, Dublin City University Ireland and 30 years of research at the Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and Behavioural Research in Education (University of Stavanger), this international scholarly conference (Dublin, 9th - 10th June 2016) will advance existing knowledge, understanding and practice about traditional and online bullying related to educational settings. 

The aim of the conference is to provide an interface in which international scholars and practitioners can consider how best to prevent and counteract bullying in all its forms. From both theoretical and empirical perspectives, contributors will consider the influence of culture and ethnic differences in societal attitudes and values about bullying.

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LifeLongJoints: Silicon Nitride Coatings for Improved Implant Function

LifeLongJoints aims to deliver next-generation, functional Silicon Nitride coatings for articulating surfaces and interfaces of total hip replacements (THR) to produce longer lasting implants.

It is anticipated that these coatings will significantly reduce the risk of implant failure associated with wear, synergistic wear/corrosion processes and the resultant debris release as well as provide significant economic and societal benefit to Europe and its citizens.


Linköping University, Sweden
TuTech Innovation GmbH,Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, Germany 
University of Leeds - IETSI, United Kingdom
University of Leeds - IMBE, United Kingdom
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland
Uppsala Universitet, Sweden

Ionbond AG, Switzerland
Simulation Solutions Limited, United Kingdom
Universität Zürich, Switzerland
Wilhelm Schulthess-Stiftung, Switzerland
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom
Aesculap AG, Germany
AnyBody Technology A/S, Denmark
Peter Brehm GmbH, Germany

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Strategies for shrinking municipalities? Local adaptation policy as a supplement to local growth policy

Dr Josefina Syssner, geographer at Linköping University, received a grant of 420,000 euros FORMAS, the Swedish Research Council, for research on Strategies of shrinking municipalities in Sweden and the Netherlands. The project is carried out with Dr Gert-Jan Hospers from the University of Twente, a partner university in the ECIU network.

Due to urbanization, brain drain and aging more and more municipalities in Sweden and the Netherlands cope with population decline. How do local governments respond to this development? And what can be learnt from the strategies employed?

In the project Dr Josefina Syssner, director of the Centre Municipality Studies (CKS) at Linköping University, will investigate how local governments seek to handle demographic shrinkage in Sweden and the Netherlands. She will closely cooperate with Prof Gert-Jan Hospers from the University of Twente. Both geographers will focus on 16 municipalities in four regions: Östergötland and Värmland in Sweden and the Achterhoek and Zuid-Limburg in the Netherlands. A key element of the project is valorisation, so that shrinking communities can benefit from the research findings.

The project started in January 2015 and lasts three years. More information on the project will follow soon.

NUCLEUS - New Understanding of Communication, Learning and Engagement in Universities and Scientific Institutions

NUCLEUS develops, supports and implements inclusive and sustainable approaches to Responsible Research and Innovation within the governance and culture of research organisations in Europe. A major goal of the transdisciplinary project will be to stimulate research and innovation which continuously reflects and responds to societal needs.
In order to achieve a multifaceted and cross-cultural New Understanding of Communication, Learning and Engagement in Universities and Scientific Institutions, 26 renowned institutions from 15 countries, among them leading representatives of 14 universities, will collaboratively identify, develop, implement and support inclusive and sustainable approaches to RRI. For a mutual learning and exchange process, the project will reach out beyond the European Research Area by including renowned scientific institutions in China, Russia and South Africa. Within a 4-year timeframe NUCLEUS will systematically uncover and analyse structural and cultural obstacles to RRI in scientific institutions. The partners will collaboratively develop innovative approaches to overcome these barriers. The project is expected to lead to an applicable ‘RRI DNA’, providing practical guidelines for higher education institutions and funding agencies across Europe and beyond. This ‘DNA’ will form the basis for the ‘NUCLEUS Living Network’, an alliance to ensure sustainability of the approach beyond the project timeline.
By offering new academic insights and practical recommendations derived from 30 ‘RRI test beds’, NUCLEUS will contribute to the debate on science policies both on a national and European level, including the future design of HORIZON 2020 and the European Research Area (ERA).

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THE NOTTINGHAM TRENT UNIVERSITY, United Kingdom Wissenschaft im Dialog gGmbH, Germany
Nottingham City Council, United Kingdom

SuPREME: Reaching excellence in the field of distributed energy systems

SUPREME is a small-scale focused networking project with ambitious objectives directly addressing the key challenges of Twinning and widening European participation. The research-intensive Consortium consists of four partners from four different countries. IMP-PAN is one of POland’s most promising energy research centres, and the SuPREME partners are representing different facets of expertise to develop IMP PAN in a Centre of Excellence. All consortium members are dedicated to the maximization of knowledge and networking achieved within SUPREME, and the partners have a very high degree of complementarity and bring unique knowledge assets to the project for the benefit of IMP-PAN.

IMP-PAN – the Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery of the Polish Academy of Sciences
University of Aalborg
University of Twente
eseia – the European Sustainable Energy Innovation Alliance

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To create a long-lasting and effective partnership between IMP PAN and its more developed partners and to reach excellence at IMP PAN in integrated energy management systems, the consortium have developed the following set of objectives:

  • To understand Poland’s unique energy requirements and develop a technical transition plan coherent with EU and national guidelines and targets.
  • To create sets of technical scenarios (algorithms, specifications, and work schemes) optimised with respect to the management of production and consumption of different energy forms (electricity, heat, cold, fuels) in energy systems able to be easily customised for flexible local or regional development within Poland.
  • To transfer all needed necessary knowledge for IMP-PAN to be able to lead Poland in energy system integration techniques and to greatly enhance the research capacity of IMP-PAN and its staff.
  • To develop close, long-term relationships with SUPREME partners.
  • To develop a Europe-wide network of relationships with key research groups and stakeholders in the field of energy systems integration to address networking gaps and deficiencies between the research institutions of the low performing Member States (Poland) and internationally-leading counterparts at the EU level.

RUNIN – The Role of Universities in Innovation and Regional Development

The aim of the RUNIN network program is to train researchers on how universities contribute to innovation and economic growth in their regions through research seeking to examine how universities fulfill their third mission in relation to regional industry and explore the range of university engagement with regional firms and institutions.

Runin was recently awarded funding of more than 3.7 million Euro by the EU.

Former Projects

MODERN (European Platform Higher Education Modernisation)

MODERN was a three-year EU-funded Structural Network (2009-2011) under the Lifelong Learning (ERASMUS) programme. It responded to the Modernisation Agenda of the European Union and to the need to invest in people, to support future leaders and encourage the professionalisation of higher education management at all levels. The overall objective was to ensure HEIs’ competitiveness to meet challenges in their external environment and respond to the needs of society. The project aimed at creating an open European Platform as a key instrument for innovation, state-of-the art knowledge,


DIFUSE aims to develop a model for close (integrated) trans-national cooperation between university knowledge transfer support functions set up to facilitate industrial and commercial exploitation of university research results. The specific goal of the project is to explore new ways for the joint exploitation of university knowledge in targeted domains using, best practice and individual experiences from members already engaged in an established pan-European university network, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), and to use this to develop models and pilot actions to show how a group of  universities might share resources to make exploitation of research results and transfer to the private sector more effective at a European level. If organisational integration of technology transfer (TT) services by this consortium of universities can be achieved, it will be the first of its kind in Europe and possibly worldwide. In this way DIFUSE could help lay the foundations for actions to be supported at a European level to provide more effective technology transfer from universities as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation programme for Framework 7. One of the final deliverables of the DIFUSE project is a handbook, the Guide to Transnational Collaboration in Knowledge Transfer.The purpose of this Handbook is to disseminate those finding which might be of wider interest, and to act as a good practice guide.Download Handbook here:

Entrepreneurship Research

This project has looked into the types of support offered to entrepreneurial students at ECIU institutions. The study has examined how six European institutions and one Australian and one Mexican institution support student entrepreneurship, and gives recommendation for how ECIU institutions can increase student entrepreneurship. The research project was coordinated by Professor Aard Groen, Dutch Institute for Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship.

Innovative Teaching for a 21st Century Europe

Given that the ECIU was established to explore and share various aspects of innovative practice within European Higher education, it has been seen as timely, as the EU is considering commissioning a study of Quality in Teaching, for the ECIU to identify and share innovative practice in teaching and learning. The EU seems keen to position European Higher Education as distinctive and excellent vis-à-vis other HE systems entering the global stage.  One area in which European institutions have a historic lead, and much to offer that is innovative, lies in their use of active, enquiry-based pedagogies to produce creative, adaptable and resilient graduates whose attributes are well attuned to the demands of a rapidly changing global economy.  To explore these issues, and to establish an ECIU teaching and learning network poised to draw down European research funding should this become available at relatively short notice, the University of Strathclyde will be hosting  proposing to host a small symposium in March 2008 to discuss the next steps.    For more information, please contact the ECIU Secretariat.

Supporting Assessment of Programming Assignment

Hamburg University of Technology and Southern Federal University jointly developed an assessment tool for supervisors' use when checking programming assignment, and for the provision of quick feedback. As the tool was developed with ECIU pump-priming funds, interested ECIU institutions can get access to the tool (by contacting the ECIU Secretariat).

Implementing Active-Learning Materials in an International Context

This joint research project by G. Zavala, ITESM, and C. Kautz, TUHH, focuses on the implementation of English-language instructional materials for non-native student populations. The starting point for the project was the observation that many materials incorporating active-learning methods for introductory college science and engineering courses were developed in English-speaking countries and are therefore available primarily in English.  Instructors in non-English speaking countries wanting to implement these materials therefore face the choice between (i) using the materials in the original English versions (and consequently teaching in a language other than the native language of most of their students) and (ii) using translations into the local language. Through analysis of empirical data on student performance for a specific set of materials (Tutorials in Introductory Physics by McDermott & Shaffer), the authors seek to investigate whether the effectiveness of such materials is affected by their translation (case ii) or by the non-native language capabilities of the participating students (case i).