It was great to finally be able to shake hands and look each other in the eye after all these months and years of only seeing each other online and working together intensively. Everyone was cheerful and eager to attend the two-day conference.
On the first day, the conference was opened by the president of Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Dick Pouwels. Then the other presidents and rectors of the 7 universities in the Alliance had their turn to address the conference. The 7 other universities that are part of the Alliance are: Polytechnic Institute of Braganca, Portugal; Bremen University of Applied Sciences, Germany; University of La Laguna, Spain; Silesian University in Opava, Czechia; University West, Sweden; Cracow University of Technology, Poland and Atlantic Technological University, Ireland.
The origin of the STARS EU Alliance was explained by project leader Rima Dijkstra, and there was room for an inspiring speech given by Prof. Dr. Jelly Zuidersma. This was followed by six presentations of the Thematic Interest Groups (TIGs) with the following themes: Digital Transformation, Healthy Ageing, Energy Transition, Circular Economy, Arts & Creative Industries, Entrepreneurship & Innovation. SBA was represented by dr. Simek, the leader of Entrepreneurship & Innovation TIG. At the end of the first day of the conference, the STARS EU commission meeting took place and there was room for an entertainment programme 'exploring Groningen'.
The second day of the conference consisted mainly of parallel meetings in each field. In total, there were 11 different meetings on this day. These ranged from the Steering Committee meeting in the morning to the six TIGs meetings, the Regional Transition Accelerator meeting, expert group meetings, the students meeting and the challenge lab meeting. Silesian University representatives were present in almost all groups. On the second conference day a STARS EU Student Board was formed consisting of students from the 8 partner universities. We believe it is very important that students are involved from the beginning and are heard about the developments for this new future-oriented European university. Below are a few summaries of what was discussed in the TIG for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which we are leading.
The TIG for Entrepreneurship and Innovation met to discuss their plans for collaboration. Options include developing networking sessions for students; best practice sessions for faculty to share tools for innovation; a shared research platform for joint publications between our universities; and developing a BIP (Blended Intensive Programme) to provide short-term international opportunities in our respective university locations. According to Dr Meghann Drury-Grogan, Head of Department of Enterprise and Technology in the School of Business at ATU and member of this TIG: "We had an engaging discussion about options for not only developing working sessions for both students and faculty, but how we can interact with the other TIGs. Innovation is a pillar of much of the work across the consortium rather than a stand-alone initiative. It is exciting to represent ATU with our European colleagues and enhance our role in building entrepreneurship capabilities in the West of Ireland! "
Read more on the STARS EU website about other TIGS: https://www.hanze.nl/eng/organisation/international-affairs/european-engaged-university/organisation/overviews/news/launching-stars-eu-conference-groningen-nl?r=https://www.hanze.nl/eng/organisation/international-affairs/european-engaged-university
At the end of the second conference day, the programme was closed with a boat trip through the canals of Groningen and dinner in Garnwerd aan Zee, a small village just outside Groningen city.
To summarise, these were two very useful and fruitful days, during which we heard from and exchanged a lot of information with each other, and we can now move forward with our plans for the future-oriented European university: STARS EU. Next year in March 2023 the conference will take place at the partner La Laguna on Tenerife, Spain.
Read about some recently implemented STARS EU activities on the website of SBA: https://www.slu.cz/opf/en/internationalcooperation
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