aUPaEU: Unite!'s new acceleration service for higher education institutions

First cooperation project between Unite! and EPICUR


The University Partnership for Acceleration of European Universities (aUPaEu) project has received 3.4 million funding from the European Commission in the framework of the European Research Area call (HORIZON-WIDERA-2022-ERA-01) for the integration and implementation of acceleration services and will start in January 2023

aUPaEU is based on the collaboration of five academic institutions that are part of two university alliances. On the side of Unite!: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech, IThinkUPC, Grenoble INP – UGA Institut d'ingénierie et de management, Politecnico di Torino. For EPiCUR: Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT).

With this collaboration, the partners aim to integrate and implement acceleration services in the context of a coordinated support system for higher education institutions (HEIs), networks, university alliances and their umbrella organizations.

“All European University Alliances are in need for better IT interfaces in order to ease the access and exchange to our rich offers for students and academics. Thus, it only makes sense that we are here working together across alliances to provide such improved services.” says Andreas Winkler, Secretary General of Unite!

“The aUPaEU project is the demonstration that the European Universities Alliances are able to foster ideas and collaboration among the universities of the same alliance as well as creating synergies with other alliances. The acceleration services to be developed in aUPaEU will help boosting the R&I institutional transformations that are currently pursued in the Unite! Alliance with the pilot activities of the UNITE.H2020 project” says Roberto Zanino, Politecnico di Torino's Key Liaison Officer and coordinator of UNITE.H2020 – the UNITE.H2020 SwafS project aimed at developing the R&I dimension of the Unite! Alliance.

Following the Greek concept of the agora, the project will seek to build a shared space where all stakeholders can give and consume acceleration services and, at the same time, contribute their knowledge and expertise. Access to this space will be accessible, diverse and inclusive.

aUPaEU's ultimate purpose is to develop methodologies, sustainability plans, coaching services, and tangible digital technologies to give an acceleration agora. HEIs, university networks, and alliances will achieve integrated, shared, and long-term R&I transformations through this accelerated agora.These transformations are intended to focus on six major areas of the HEI transformation agenda: capacity, infrastructure, and resource sharing; researcher career attractiveness; collaboration with R&I ecosystem actors; open science; societal outreach; and gender equality.

For Jesús Alcober, coordinator of the project “The aUPaEu partners' cooperative effort aims at building and deploying models of acceleration services for similar organizations, particularly those in widening countries, allowing the application of the outcomes of UNITE.H2020 and EPICUR-Research projects and their collective experience in European higher education institutions (HEIs), networks, university alliances and their umbrella organizations.”

The European Universities Initiative

The European Universities Initiative was launched in 2019 to push for the establishment of a European Education Area by 2025. European Universities are transnational alliances of higher education institutions from across the EU that share a long-term strategy, promoting European values and identity. The initiative is designed to significantly strengthen student and staff mobility and to foster the quality, inclusion and competitiveness of European higher education.

In response to a first call of the Erasmus+ Programme in 2019, the first 17 alliances were selected for a 3-year pilot phase to lay the foundations for future European universities. Unite! has been among these first 17. Another 24 alliances followed in the 2nd call in 2020.

Unite!’s new funding starting end of 2022 falls into the calls of the further roll out of the European Universities Initiative. It plans to increase the number of European Universities to 60 with more than 500 universities by mid-2024, supported under Erasmus+ with an indicative budget of EUR 1.1 billion for the period 2021-2027. The aim is to develop and share a common long-term structural, sustainable and systemic cooperation on education, research and innovation, creating European inter-university campuses where students, staff and researchers from all parts of Europe can enjoy seamless mobility and create new knowledge together, across countries and disciplines.”