Pressures from globalization and the knowledge-based economy and society are transforming the traditional role of universities. Universities are being targeted by policy makers because they are the largest knowledge-based institutions in the regions. They have concluded that universities will aid economic regeneration if they disseminate their knowledge and expertise through industry linked partnerships and improve the application of their research results. Future of universities as major players in regional regeneration lies in their response to regional needs. Therefore, partnerships between public and private sectors, universities, research centres and industries, faculties and business organisations is essential and can be expected to grow in significance in the first part of the twenty-first century.
That is why there is the pressing necessity of a new concept of University development, creation of ambience that can perceive European approach to promote all new achievements in all areas pertaining to the national economy.
And that requires new strategic responses from the higher education institutions to form partnerships with industry and government to enable them to fulfil their additional role in economic regeneration. Universities are now challenged to free themselves from uni-dimensional, hierarchical structures which are unresponsive and non-interactive with environmental change. This transformation of the university system is already a worldwide phenomenon and fully overlaps with the EU priorities. British and American universities are beginning to re-examine their traditional role and are actively entering symbiotic relationship with industry, also as an alternative source of income.
In view of the above, we decided to develop a project that would lead to the achievement of two main objectives: a) encouraging institutions, academic and non-academic, to work together in a particular discipline, i.e. setting up a network of university – industry institutional links in order to build a cooperation structure between universities and industry in regions, and b) establishing university structures to re-enforce/enhance links between universities and their external environment and developing a mechanism of cooperation and interaction between researchers/universities and industry at a regional level.
New knowledge is increasingly produced through a variety of work- and industry-based research activities. For knowledge to be useful, it must be put into practice. This, in turn, means more innovation. More innovation means stronger economies. And stronger economies mean easier and smoother transnational cooperation for the benefit of the citizens.