Roberto zanino, pia schmith and isabel frança as speakers during the UNITE.H2020 dissemination event
Roberto zanino, pia schmith and isabel frança as speakers during the UNITE.H2020 dissemination event
The UNITE.H2020 project hands over the baton to the new initiative Unite.Widening
Roberto zanino, pia schmith and isabel frança as speakers during the UNITE.H2020 dissemination event
The first phase of the UNITE.H2020 project financed by the Horizon2020 programme and coordinated by the Politecnico and created with the aim of planning the future of Research and Innovation collaboration has come to an end.
The aim of the project was precisely to develop a shared, integrated and long-term R&I strategy in synergy with the educational dimension of Unite!, by organising pilot initiatives in various fields to develop new ways of research collaboration and thus promote the institutional transformation of the Alliance partners.

The seven partner universities - Politecnico di Torino (Italy), TU Darmstadt (Germany), Aalto University (Finland), Grenoble Institute of Technology (France), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain) - have developed a common Unite! agenda for R&I, and carried out pilot activities to develop new modes of collaboration that can promote transformation at the institutional level.

The Unite! partner universities have collaborated in order to develop and implement each of the pilot actions, in particular the strengthening of the Unite! network of researchers, through the organisation of a thematic workshop for young researchers, and the development of the Unite! network of integrated services for research and innovation (IRIS). Other actions pursued include the organisation of matchmaking events with other university alliances to promote the preparation of proposals for European projects in the Horizon Europe programme, the enhancement of university-business collaboration, the development of a common approach to research careers and actions to support young researchers, the promotion of open science and the Alliance's social engagement through awareness-raising activities, such as participation in the European Researchers' Night. Collaboration has also been fostered by the creation of a comprehensive handbook on managing access to research infrastructures and an online catalogue of research infrastructures open to external users.

Now that this first phase, which started in 2020, has come to an end, the definition of the future of the initiative continues with 'Unite.Widening Horizon Europe', the Alliance's new project, which has just been launched and will continue some of the activities of UNITE.H2020, expanding its international dimension by focusing on the Widening countries, i.e. countries with a low participation rate in major European funding programmes. The project aims to extend UNITE.H2020 results to become a model of a competitive European University Alliance that produces top-class R&I and combines it with a virtual and physical seamless inter-university campus, embedded in a network of innovative regions, with the goal of a more sustainable world.

The UNITE.H2020 project officially ended in December 2023 and its results were presented at a final dissemination event in Lisbon on 2 February this year, which highlighted how the project contributed to the priority actions in the European Research Area (ERA) 2022-2024 agenda for new policy development.

“We are now at the end of three years of a fascinating adventure, but the seeds we have thrown are going to blossom in the Unite.Widening project, which just started and will continue for another five years. Whereas the support of R&I in the Alliances is a hot topic of discussion these days, both in Brussels and in our Ministries, as well as in the major stakeholder organisations like CESAER, FOREU, etc, this gives a good hope that in a few years from now Unite! will have been able to develop and perhaps start implementing a really shared, integrated, long-term R&I strategy, in synergy with its education dimension.”

explains Roberto Zanino, Professor at the Politecnico and project coordinator