3AMK alliance brings together the three largest universities of applied science in Helsinki-Uusimaa region – Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia. As part of our joint “Horizon for Helsinki Uusimaa Region” -project, funded by Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, twelve representatives of 3AMK RDI (research, development, and innovation) management and services gathered together in Brussels. Our aim was to contribute to the Horizon Europe mid-term evaluation and catch up the recent developments of EU Skills Agenda and New European Innovation Agenda, as well as to identify new EU RDI cooperation and funding possibilities for 3AMK strategic alliance.
Highlights of the visit
Insights into key EU funding developments
The EU’s cooperation and funding opportunities are vast. Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. The visit took place halfway through the EU’s programming period when the mid-term reviews of the current period were just being collected and both the end-of-term program (2025-2027) and the programming of the next framework programme period are ongoing.
During the visit, we were given an in-depth insight into the strategic preparation of Horizon Europe (HE), Pillar 2 and the state of play of EU missions and Erasmus+. In the new programming period, emphasis will be placed on European competitiveness, partnerships, and socio-political developments. The themes of climate change, green energy and smart cities prevail. More synergies are built among different funding programs: education (Erasmus+), researcher exchange and mobility (Marie Curie) and research (HE).
We had the chance to visit EU Commission, have a lunch meeting with the member of European parliament Ville Niinistö and meet several representatives from EU Commission covering themes related to European Skills Agenda and the EU Year of Skills theme.
We also got an in-depth look at the New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA), which aims to close Europe’s innovation gap and promote innovation in deep technologies. The aim is to bring down greenhouse gas emissions, to make European economies more digital and to guarantee Europe’s food, energy and raw materials security. Another objective is to create one hundred committed regions in Europe and enhance collaboration between the most and less innovative regions for to speed up the development in different parts of Europe.
We were pleased to note that the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council had already composed a baseline review of the implementation of NEIA (Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council 2022), which was also noted by the EU representatives. Finland and Uusimaa are among the most innovative regions in Europe and among the top ones in the EU Innovation Scoreboard (European Commission 2023). Universities of Applied Sciences play a vital part in the Helsinki-Uusimaa regional innovation ecosystem for Green and Digital transition and 3AMK alliance is actively taking part in the implementation of NEIA with the wealth of RDI projects within this theme. Also, as an example of UASes contribution Laurea’s Circular Economy Living Lab is part of the regional circular incubation and education programmes and both Metropolia and Haaga-Helia are consortium partners in the European Digital Innovation Hub FAIR AI. Helsinki-Uusimaa region and 3AMK as part of its Green and Digital transition ecosystem have plenty to share with other regions to speed up the development in different parts of Europe.
Networking with other European UAS
One interesting part of the visit was taking part in the UAS4EUROPE “Halfway to Horizon” networking event. UAS4EUROPE is the leading network of European Universities of Applied Sciences, representing more than 450 UAS in Europe. The event gathered two hundred colleagues from twenty countries to discuss the state of Horizon Europe from the perspective of the Applied Sciences. In the event our 3AMK delegation members Pia Saari and Harri Haapaniemi were hosting one of the Horizon Europe Pillar 2 breakout sessions and Pia Saari also took part the panel discussions. It was very insightful to notice how similar experiences and challenges the UASes in different parts of Europe face for example in relation to the current RDI funding schemes.
In many of the presentations the role of Universities of Applied Sciences is emphasised especially in close regional ecosystem cooperation between different actors and in achieving the direct impacts of applied research, development, and innovation cooperation. This is clearly the strength of the UAS, which is highly expected and desired, especially in Horizon Europe Pillars 2. There are also significant cooperation and funding opportunities in Pillar 3 among the new calls under European innovation ecosystems.
One of the breakout sessions in the UAS4EUROPE networking event was focused on the RDI Dimension of the European Universities Initiative. This offered an interesting opportunity to benchmark and learn among the session participants. In the session we were given an in-depth introduction to the organization and the activities of E³UDRES² (the Engaged and Entrepreneurial European University as Driver for European Smart and Sustainable Regions) Alliance. The session provided valuable information for the UASes interested to apply in Erasmus+ European Universities forthcoming call as well as those already partners of existing European Universities alliances.
The meetings and networking events provided an outstanding possibility to enhance the visibility of the 3AMK strategic alliance´s RDI activities and strengthen collaboration with relevant European networks. During the three-day comprehensive programme of visits, we got to know key actors and institutions in the EU. We also grasped a better understanding of the significance of the 3AMK alliance in the European context, especially the volume (34000 students, 2000 experts) and extensive EU project portfolio presents 3AMK as an interesting collaborator and potential partner. It was rewarding to get a warm welcome and high interest from key European stakeholders and our peers to initiate further collaboration with us. This demonstrates the important role of 3AMK, and UASes in general as to enhance the quality and the functioning of the European RDI ecosystem. During the visit, we were able to get to know each other within 3AMK also personally. It is easier to collaborate, exchange ideas and prepare new projects when you know each other well.
The project “Horizon for Helsinki-Uusimaa region” has received funding from the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council under UKKE Programme, which we greatly acknowledge. We are also very thankful for Helsinki EU Office, especially Mikael Vainio and Julia Jokelin, for excellent hosting and the organization of our visit in Brussels together with the project staff.
Maria Kuula, Senior Manager at Laurea University of Applied Sciences, specializing in Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) services and funding. Facilitating Laurea University of Applied Sciences’ RDI collaborations with regional innovation ecosystem enterprises. Expertise covers sustainability, foresight, ecosystems, platforms, co-creation, and coaching. Extensive background in urban and regional collaboration and development.
Mona Roman, Director, Innovation at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, responsible for Functional City of People Innovation Hub. Coordinator of U!REKA SHIFT European University Alliance. Strong expertise in European projects (H2020, Horizon Europe, Erasmus+). Over 30 scientific international publications on citizen engagement, collaborative innovation management and strategic management with 10+ years industry experience from the telecommunications sector.