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Author image by Noeleen O'Hara

One of the EU’s strategic goals is to achieve an innovative, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth by removing barriers to innovation and making it easier for HEIs (Higher Education Institutions), businesses and citizens to work together in delivering solutions to address the challenges faced by our society (EU Commission, 2019).

The KTSoftSkills is a three-year (Dec 2022-Nov 2025) project, co-funded by the Erasmus Plus Programme of the European Union, which aims to remove barriers between HEIs and external partners by supporting and improving their mutual understanding and negotiation processes.

Knowledge transfer (KT) professionals, as cooperation partnerships builders and managers, play a key role in leading the complex processes of working between research and business and community organisations. Thus, KT professionals can exacerbate or smooth those barriers to HEI-business cooperation.

The project aims to enhance KT professionals' competencies, specifically soft and transversal skills, that may support the transformation of HEIs into more inclusive organizations. In other words, the project aims to 

(a) improve the impact of knowledge transfer (KT) activities, 

(b) foster the actual and expected contribution of collaborative projects, and 

(c) build more inclusive and effective collaboration partnerships between HEIs and firms.

With the objective of designing a soft skills training programme for KT professionals, the Consortium is involved in different types of activities – including interviews, focus groups, international meetings, and validation activities – aiming at systematising the set of soft skills (e.g., negotiation, conflict resolution, alliances formation capabilities) that KT professionals need – beyond the hard ones – as well as providing homogeneous materials and tools for training KT professionals across Europe, to create a standardised set of competencies across different types of organisations.

By making KT more effective, inclusive and impactful, we expect a multilevel impact out of the project: at the horizontal level, the project is going to promote common values, civic engagement and participation by enhancing critical thinking and making relationships between society, business and HEIs more effective for addressing societal challenges. At a more specific level, the project aims at promoting inter-connected and inclusive HEIs through the design of a training programme for KT professionals, to create wide collaborative networks within and across countries.

The Consortium is coordinated by the University of Bologna – Department of Management (prof. Elisa Villani) – and includes other five partners from four European Countries: ASTP, Helsinki Think Company, Jagiellonian University, Netval, and SOPU Academy.

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