Connecting European Universities and Regions

E³UDRES² Forum 2023 Celebrated the Network's Achievements

More than 120 researchers, students, entrepreneurs, policy makers and higher education professionals travelled to the city of St. Pölten from 18-19 September 2023 to attend the E³UDRES² Forum 2023. Hosted at the modern St. Pölten UAS campus under the motto "Connecting European Universities & Regions", the event celebrated the three-year anniversary of the E³UDRES² Alliance, and marked a significant milestone for the university network. The Forum not only showcased the network's commitment to shaping a new approach to (higher) education, but also to fostering collaboration between academia and local communities, as well as institutions outside the education sector. In addition, the event provided a sneak peek into what the future might hold for the university alliance.

Thought-provoking talks

Kicking off the event with a panel discussion allowing students and staff to share their E³UDRES² experience, participants of the E³UDRES² Forum in the following days also enjoyed keynotes by prominent speakers like Vanessa Debiais-Sainton (Head of Unit Higher Education, Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sports and Culture at the European Commission), Jiri Nantl (Deputy Minister - Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic), Raffaele Trapasso (Senior Economist at the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions & Cities) and Gerald Bast (Rector of the University of Applied Arts Vienna). Additionally, various breakout sessions gave the participants the opportunity to deep-dive into topics like Active Learning, Innovation for Regions, Artificial Intelligence and the Shift to a Fully-Fledged European University. Panel discussions with stakeholders from industry, local authorities and development agencies gave insight into how collaboration of higher education institutions with local actors can be beneficial for both sides.

Iveta Putnina (Vidzeme UAS), Alexandru Luca (Politehnica University Timisoara), Gabriele Permoser (St. Pölten UAS) and Hannes Raffaseder (St. Pölten UAS) reflecting on their experience in the E³UDRES² Alliance over the past years. (c) Magdalena Kanev

Secret programme items & engaging social activities

After emotional recapitulations of the past three years in the Alliance, one of the highlights of the first day of the event was a secret programme item that led the participants outside the main event hall. After a short walk to the campus garden, a Japanese Flowering Cherry tree was planted in a joint effort - it's beautiful pink and purple blossoms will match the colours of the E³UDRES² alliance, while the tree also acts as a symbol of joint growth and regional anchoring. Subsequently, the participants got to enjoy the opening of a small E³UDRES² Exhibition which was created at the bright entry hall of the St. Pölten UAS, together with a part of the Spotlight Heritage Timisoara exhibition that was brought to St. Pölten. The exhibition space, operated by Politehnica University Timisoara, highlighted the fascinating history of Timisoara, Europe's Capital of Culture in 2023, with immersive AR demonstrations.

Forum participants gathering for a group picture with the newly planted tree standing as a symbol for the E³UDRES² Alliance. (c) Magdalena Kanev

Students at the Heart of E³UDRES²

During the E³UDRES² Forum, the E³UDRES² Board of Student Representatives used the opportunity to meet in person and also elect a new chair and vice-chair. Following Alexandru Luca as the chair of the Student Board, E³UDRES² students will now have Karina Anna Lapina from Vidzeme UAS as their new main representative. Paul Stieglbauer from Politehnica University Timisoara is taking the position as the Board's vice chair. In addition to the meetings of the Student Board, one of the breakout sessions during the second day of the Forum was hosted by students, bringing their perspective to the audience.

A New Vision for Higher Education

With the E³UDRES² Alliance being founded in 2020, many new initiatives have seen the light of day: More than 20 student-centered events (e.g. Hackathons, Bootcamps, I Living Labs and more) were hosted all across the partnering institutions with over 900 students engaged, 220 entrepreneurs or local organisations involved, 100 real-life regional challenges solved and 5 additional third-party funded projects launched. By also promoting synergies between higher education institutions and local communities, E³UDRES² aims to drive regional development, innovation, and cohesion. Over the past three years, the network has made significant strides in achieving its goals.

The E³UDRES² Board of Student Representatives held its elections for a new chair and vice-chair during the E³UDRES² Forum. (c) Ramona Mauthner

a lasting community

One of the most inspiring aspects of the E³UDRES² Forum 2023 was the sense of community that permeated the event. Attendees from universities, regions, and various backgrounds came together to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practices. This collaborative spirit is at the core of E³UDRES² success, and it exemplifies the network's ability to build bridges between academia and localities. As the E³UDRES² network enters its fourth year, it does so with a renewed commitment to its mission. The success of the E³UDRES² Forum 2023 serves as a testament to the positive impact that collaboration between universities and regions can have. E³UDRES² aims to continue expanding its network, nurturing innovation, and driving regional development across Europe.

Pictures: (c) Magdalena Kanev


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