Europe focuses on university-industry cooperation

Halaska Gábor | 2023-05-22
A major international conference on university-industry cooperation in Europe took place in Budapest in mid-May.

The prestigious event in Europe – organised under the auspices of the University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN). UIIN brought together around 500 academic and business participants at the Budapest Congress Centre to exchange views and share best practices. On key trends in innovation based on university-industry linkages.

With 250 organisations represented and more than 100 speakers from 60 countries, participants and speakers representing universities. They discussed in 5 separate rooms at the same time their strategies for linking universities to the economy and industry. Following the latest trends in education-related innovation, the real-life impact of research results and their monetisation.

Among the topics discussed were the role of artificial intelligence in education and innovation, EU and regional cooperation, new approaches to research, changing traditional university models, the rise of robotics and blockchain technologies, the dramatic change in the way education is delivered (digitalisation), the role of higher education in addressing sustainability issues, and new ways of cooperation between business and academia.

Digitalisation in Europe

The opening speech of the conference was delivered by Arno Meerman, founding director of UIIN, who highlighted that new trends and technologies such as digitalisation and the rise of artificial intelligence are fundamentally changing the higher education models that have been established for decades, even centuries, all over the world, including in Europe.

On behalf of the Foundation of Széchenyi István University of Győr, which is co-organising the international event in Hungary, László Palkovics, who originally opened the event, was represented by Eszter Lukács, Vice-Rector for Education of the University, who presented the developments in Western Hungary, the University’s new science park and its system of industrial relations.

Szent István Egyetem – university in Győr – presentation

In her presentation (pictured above), the Vice Rector highlighted the innovation work of the University of Győr, the new industrial parks and the transformations. While Széchenyi István University is contributing to its mission of technology and knowledge transfer in the region, such as the long-standing cooperation with Audi and other major regional companies.

Dual-use trechnologies

Lilla Nedecky, Head of the International HUB, presented the main sponsor of the conference, the TECHTRA Technology Transfer Institute. One of the main goals of which is to research and develop so-called dual-use technologies (civil and defence). Their main objective, she said, is to achieve technology and knowledge transfer between industrial and academic actors in order to make domestic companies more competitive, especially in dual-use technologies.

Cooperation between TECHTRA and UIIN

In a recent collaboration, this joint conference was organised by the TECHTRA Institute for Technology Transfer in Győr and the dutch University Industrial Innovation Network (UIIN) 2023 in Budapest on 9-11 May 2023.

The UIIN is a knowledge hub founded in 2012 with the aim of facilitating successful knowledge transfer between universities, industries, entrepreneurs and students.

UIIN also conducts its own research, organises events and provides training and consultancy services to its community of more than 80 organisations and 500 individual members. It has been organising European conferences since 2013. For the first time, UIIN organised an event in Budapest.
The aim of the 2023 conference is to foster interaction between academia and industry. Bringing together entrepreneurs and dedicated students to share their experiences and insights. The keynote speakers of the event were:

– Cristina Riesen, Founder and CEO of Educreators Foundation,
– Diana El-Azar, Director of Strategic Communications, Minerva Project,
– Emma Salgård Cunha, Commerce Manager, University of Cambridge,
– Kelly Sexton, Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships at the University of Michigan,

– Philipp Gerbert, General Manager of TUM Venture Labs,

– Robert Giezendanner-Thoben, Director of Industrial Affairs at EPFL, and
– Roberta Malee Bassett, Global Head of Higher Education at the World Bank.

An interesting Hungarian workshop on artificial intelligence

How to address the challenges and opportunities of AI in the cooperation between universities and industry? It was the question posed by Hungarian speakers at what was perhaps one of the most interesting workshops at the UIIN conference. László Korányi, Chief Innovation Adviser at the Ministry of Culture and Innovation, KIM (formerly Ministry of Innovation and Technology) and lecturer at Óbuda University, led the discussion and practice. The renowned lecturer, who has also worked as a manager in the field of public innovation, and his colleagues shed light on the title proposition with a very novel approach.
The usual passive audience was encouraged to interact. Participants were divided into teams and tasked to act as imaginary teachers. Giving their engineering and computer science students tasks that they could not solve using ChatGPT! Of course, as in real life, the students could use Chat GPT in this simulated game. But only to prepare their work and to carry out some of the tasks. After the one-hour workshop, most of the participants had a much clearer understanding of how today’s AI works. Or, what it can be used for, what it cannot be used for, and what it is not or less suitable for.

New megatrend in Europe as well – AI

It turned out, for example, that while programs or websites are quite well created by AI. It is dangerous to rely on AI even for internet research. Chat GPT is also able to “spit out” web links and references that appear to be real but are created by the AI at that moment.

In other words, it is not advisable to rely on the AI even for a simple Internet search. Not that it is worth using it to check the factuality, veracity or authenticity of the search results. Furthermore, the AI will not perform a verbal answer or a description of engineering work (hardware construction and the like). Since in the latter case it may also be a matter of actual experience of engineering and installation work. Which an algorithm will not be able to improvise credibly even after many, many years.

The event also featured speakers from national universities:

Szabolcs Prónay (Szegedi Egyetem),
Szilárd Németh (Budapest Business School),
László Korányi, Miklós Kozlovszky (Óbudai Egyetem)
Martin Rakovics (ELTE)

We will be back soon with more details on some of the topics, alongside the interview.