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Reform Support
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Supporting reforms to improve the quality of education and training systems and ensure equal access to it

Funding Programme
  • 2021

Improving the System of Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration between Universities and Society in Italy

The Commission has supported the Ministry of University and Research of Italy to enhance the cooperation between higher education institutions (HEIs) and businesses, public administration and civil society. 

The project has led to the creation of a set of evidence-based policy reform options to boost knowledge exchange and collaboration (KEC). Reaching beyond technology transfer, the project aimed at promoting a broad approach to KEC, highlighting the relevance of dimensions such as sustainability and inclusiveness.


The EU aims to maximise the social and economic value of research and innovation in Europe. Sharing knowledge and improving uptake of research and innovation results by society is a key part of the Commission’s proposal to revitalise the European Research Area. 

In Italy, various national and regional policies and initiatives have been put forward to strengthen KEC activities, including, for example, the reinforcement of universities’ technology transfer offices, the Industrial PhD’ programmes and the National Plan Industry 4.0.

The aim of this project was to complement and strengthen these efforts, helping Italy reach a consensus on the main challenges facing KEC and about the policy responses to put in place.

Support delivered

A key pillar of the project was an active participation of national, regional and local stakeholders. This included public authorities, higher education institutions, civil society and businesses, who participated in various targeted activities, such as interviews and public workshops to collect their feedback.

The project provided support in the following areas:

  • Provide a comprehensive analysis of KEC activities in Italy, as well as the key challenges to and opportunities of KEC.
  • Elaborate a set of potential evidence-based policy reform options to boost KEC.
  • Provide an inventory of new regulatory elements and measures to improve KEC between HEIs, businesses and the wider society.

The project was implemented by the OECD and involved a strong participation of various experts in the field.

Results achieved

The project has helped to build a shared awareness and understanding of the barriers to and opportunities of knowledge exchange and collaboration between universities and society at large.

As a results of various targeted activities, several evidence-based policy reform options to boost KEC have been developed together with an Action Plan and Roadmap to guide the Italian authorities throughout the implementation phase.

It is expected that the project will lead to the adoption of concrete measures and reform proposals, agreed among the main stakeholders, to improve the system of KEC.

More about the project

You can read the documents related to the project here: