Strengthening engagement of universities and industries internationally: The case of the European Network of Research and Innovation Centres and Hubs (ENRICH), a holistic approach

Sara Medina
Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação

Johanna Haunschild
Fraunhofer IPK

Carolina Turcato
Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação

The European Network of Research and Innovation Centres and Hubs (ENRICH) is a network-based initiative gathering Europe-wide efforts and actors on fostering its science, technology and innovation (STI) excellence in strategic markets.
The main objective of ENRICH is to foster the European excellence and leadership throughout the creation of service driven support to European organisations, such as Universities, Research Centres, Research Councils, Industry Associations, Large Companies, SMEs, Start-ups, Innovation Agencies, Funding Agencies, STI networks and platforms, among others. The Centre will act as a facilitator to connect, expand and scale business and innovation development with three strategic partner countries, namely Brazil, China and the United States of America.
Promoting the excellence of European science, technology and innovation means meeting the challenges of competitiveness and creating high-quality jobs. Doing this internationally means increasing the success of these challenges. The key is to find trusted partners and work in synergy with them, to create fertile entrepreneurship ecosystems where new ideas meet new skills and competences, and create the future.
Starting as 3 different projects funded under the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme – CEBRABIC (for Brazil), ERICENA (for China) and NearUS (for the USA) – the ENRICH network is being implemented on a gradual basis. After this initial setup stage, which includes a market analysis and the business model definition, ENRICH is now implementing a pilot stage, in which services are provided on an experimental basis, within the framework of the Horizon 2020 projects, and through the project partners. ENRICH will gradually enter a full implementation stage, in which, acting as an independent legal entity and comprising its own physical and staff resources, it will be able to fully deploy its service portfolio. ENRICH will then finally reach a self-sustainability stage, in which ENRICH is expected to be able to cover its own costs with a mixed source of revenues (including service contracts, membership fees, grants, etc.) and to achieve financial sustainability vis-à-vis the Horizon 2020 projects and respective grants.
ENRICH services intend to address all the needs for support of an European STI organisation or EU partnerships when addressing the abovementioned international markets, ranging from training activities up to soft landing and co-working, including as well networking, intelligence, consultancy, among others.
ENRICH is able to support and strengthen the engagement between universities and industry on an international level, by providing:
 Connections between RDI institutions and actors from EU and BR/ CN / USA;
 Support for these actors on their active search for funding and financing opportunities, regarding their approach to these new markets;
 Training on proposal writing and guidance towards the creation and establishment of international partnership projects;
 Soft-landing and co-working spaces in selected organisations certified by the ENRICH network;
 New and reliable contacts from within ENRICH’s extensive network, by delivering the chance for interaction with key players (Brazilian, Chinese and from the USA) at events, fairs and matchmaking tours;
 RDI landscape analysis focused on providing a concise overview on the current state-of-the-art of specific countries and regions. ENRICH aims to provide tailor-made reports for multiple sectors in Europe, Brazil, China and the USA;
 Business development insights to support the approach to targeted markets, namely: identification of clients / suppliers / partners; feasibility studies; exploitation strategies; and business plans.
All of the services mentioned above can be effectively implemented through the development of a well-know and functional network of Centres, that is able to reach the right stakeholders, both from the EU and the targeted countries (Brazil, China and the USA).
The networking strategy of ENRICH aims to raise awareness and interest about the Centres and their services and the advantages of developing a steering interaction with the Centres, ultimately capturing the attention of potential new members and participants in ENRICH’s activities. This strategy is built upon a concept called “Community” which includes different levels of engagement of different types of stakeholders. Within the ENRICH “Community”, we can highlight: the establishment of our focal point in Europe (office in Brussels, Belgium); the ENRICH’s Headquarters in Brasilia (Brazil), Beijing (China), and East-Coast Centre in Boston and West-Coast Centre in San Francisco (USA); and the Regional Hubs and Branches that are also being established, as well as the ENRICH’s Soft Landing Zones.
Acting as an interface among different players of the innovation value chain, ENRICH is an innovative structure that intends to foster dynamic and smart connections engaging European STI actors in business and industry with their key counterparts in targeted economically and industrially-advanced countries.