Interregional Internationlisation Initiative - 3i


Interregional Internationlisation Initiative - 3iThe Interregional Internationalisation Initiative University Network (3i Network) is a collaboration founded by Universiteit Gent, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULAK), the University of Kent and the Université de Lille.

The main goal of the network is to bring together universities, regional governments and the private sector/civil society to work on challenges common to Flanders, Kent and the Hauts-de-France.

Four thematic clusters

By virtue of their proximity, four thematic clusters were put forward for cooperation. For each of these clusters (including but not limited to) the three regions will define common challenges (see below: round-tables).  

Pressures on coastal and marine biodiversity continue to increase. An estimated 40 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100km of the coast, putting unsustainable strain on coastal and marine resources. Human population is projected to increase to more than 9 billion people by 2050, bringing increasing pressure marine and coastal resources. At the same time, the EU Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries reported that the European Blue Economy, which includes all economic activities related to the ocean, seas and coastal areas of Europe, is thriving. The overall aim of the European Commission’s Blue Growth Strategy is to further harness the potential of Europe’s marine and coastal resources in terms of economic and societal value as well as sustainability. Yet, if the Blue Economy wants to thrive successfully, it is essential to make the transition to a sustainable sector. Different transitions have been initiated at global and local scales. The complexity is enormous and requires innovation, new knowledge and skills. Furthermore, it is important to involve stakeholders from citizens to governments. The Channel area will have to prepare for these transitions too, if it wants to play a leading role in Europe’s Blue Economy.

Marine and Maritime Challenges aims to identify specific scientific, industrial, social and political challenges. By bringing the relevant stakeholders together the cluster aims to illuminate the national and regional dynamics that differentially shape this area; to highlight actions that can support and guide the development of the blue sector with an emphasis on cross-national solutions and actions bringing research findings and innovative practices to policy makers and practitioner communities, faced with developing a sustainable blue economy.

Trade and Economy will seek to be forward looking to 2030 to develop frameworks, policies and new practices and policies for both businesses and policymakers in the ‘Cross-Channel Economies’ of Ghent, Lille and Kent.  The role of innovation will be key in shapping these changes.  There a number of possible themes we could pursue here:

  1. Organizations and enterprises are having to become ever more open and inter-linked in this new economy.  What does this mean for the boundaries of the firm and organization and its inter-linkages with other firms and organizations?  Implications here for innovation, trade and supply chains?  Are new business models and organizational forms emerging?
  2. Associated with this is continued changes in the digital economy.  How will further developments in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), fintech and e-commerce going to change business practice and trade in the future?
  3. How will developments in trade evolve over time? As regions and economies become there are implications for supply chains, their resilience (to natural and made disasters) and impact of climate change controls and need to improve business and supply chain efficiency and reduce travel.
  4. Are new forms of organization and intermediaries emerging which can support these changes?  What is the role of regional and national agencies in this process?  This is especially important in supporting innovation and trade, but also in the public sector as well.
  5. Role of productivity in supporting national and regional growth.  EU27 and UK generally have low performances in productivity growth, although France has had a much better record recently.  Are there new ways of doing things that can support enterprises in-house and externally? This is important for all sizes of enterprise and the public sector organizations.
  6. Impact of climate change and regulation on all aspects of the economy.  Improving business efficiency, reducing waste and trip lengths.

Nutrition and Health aims to bring together the academic community – medical, biomedical and paramedical sciences, nutritional sciences, dietetics– with medical practitioners, policy makers, care and food providers, to define the major interregional challenges in health and care such as ageing, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and how care and nutrition can be improved to better deal with these.

The overall aim will be to illuminate the national and regional dynamics and highlight actions that can support and guide development of shared high-quality evidence-based interventions, with the cross fertilization of ideas at the national and international level bringing research findings and innovative practices to practitioner and producer communities. 

This cluster is aimed at addressing issues of Communities and Wellbeing through the specific focus of Diversity and Inclusion in theory, research and global practice. What are the significant political, professional and civil society initiatives that further this agenda in regards to migration, gender equality, non-discrimination along lines of origin and religious identities, but also sexuality, disability, or age? Our approach will be to tackle these subjects from various fields and policy domains, including [higher] education, employment, urban belonging, housing, and territorial/regional integration. By bringing the academic community -- in law, social and political sciences, psychology, education sciences, humanities -- together with policy makers, practitioners and civil society organisations, the overall aim will be to illuminate the national and regional dynamics that differentially shape these concerns into policy interventions; to highlight emblematic actions that can support and guide the development of shared high-quality practices, with the cross fertilisation of ideas at national and international level bringing research findings and innovative practices to policy makers and practitioner communities, faced with common challenges of global diversity, social justice, and innovation (societies in transition?)

The founding universities are convinced that cooperation encourages innovation and creativity and can result in projects which benefit the population, businesses and other organisations in their respective regions.

To maximise impact and the full innovation potential of European ecosystems, experience shows that strong territorial innovation ecosystems based on excellence are essential. 

These ecosystems are based on the so-called quadruple helix:

  • Academia and research: universities and research organisations, vocational training providers, technology transfer offices…
  • Public bodies: regional and local authorities, innovation agencies, public-supported incubators and accelerators ….
  • Private sector: businesses (SMEs, starts-up, large companies…), clusters, chambers, private incubators and accelerators …
  • Civil society: end-users, NGOs, associations, unions, etc.

Launch event 6 May 2020 - CANCELLED

In order to kick off the network and provide a forum for cooperation among stakeholders, the 3i Network will organise an launch event on May 6, 2020 that brings together the strands of the quadruple helix to discuss our shared challenges. 

We would like to welcome not only staff members and researchers from the universities involved, but also representatives from the public bodies and private sector from the three regions to participate in the round-table discussions organised for each thematic clyster.

An expected outcome of the event is a cartography that will provide a road map for future collaborations. This cartography can serve as lobbying tool and guide for funding at the regional, national and European levels.

Download the save-the-date.  More info on the registration for the event will follow.


International Relations Office
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