The European Consortium of Innovative Universities – ECIU is a network of thirteen universities that have a few things in common: they are of the same size, internationally-oriented, care about quality and innovation in teaching, have a strong focus on research and teaching in ICT and social science, are committed to innovation and entrepreneurship.
The member universities – which are more dynamic and inclined to networking than larger, traditional universities – were able to contribute positively to the European debate with cutting-edge ideas and projects. The fact that these universities are far from Europe's major cities is their point of strength, is what made them establish connections locally and invest in innovation and pilot projects to test best practices.
ECIU can present itself to European instances and other universities and university networks as an entity capable of accompanying and influencing the European agenda in higher education cooperation policy and regional research and development.
The activities in Brussels are coordinated by the ECIU Brussels’ Office and the Steering Committee EU Policy and Research.
The network was founded in 1997 and is growing in popularity especially at European level, because it is seen as an ideal setting to explore new directions in innovation applied to higher education and research.
The consortium is now very well structured and every partner university has different working groups made up of teaching and administrative staff that focus on specific themes. Mobility will be increased for students, teaching staff and technical-administrative staff, and programmes will be designed to facilitate exchanges among the thirteen universities, including for short periods.
The University of Trento joined ECIU on 11 April 2019.
UniTrento and the ambitious ECIU University project
The challenge that ECIU has taken on is part of a large pilot programme funded by the European Commission whose objective is to encourage networking among universities. The Commission received a quite huge number of proposals from different countries to build this "European network of universities", including ECIU's.
The new ECIU University will offer interdisciplinary and flexible programmes, tailored to the needs of society and students.
The members aim to create a European campus where students, researchers and academics can study, work, conduct research in different languages, from different places, on different subjects.
The successful proposal that ECIU submitted to the European Commission is backed by important industrial and business partners. Airbus, Cisco, Intel, Ericsson are already involved, and the University of Trento included local institutions (the Autonomous Province of Trento and the municipality of Trento), and Hub Innovazione Trentino, Confindustria Trento, Computer Science, and Novartis – Sandoz Industrial Product Spa.
This sounds like a revolution in university education, as it requires universities to adopt a new teaching approach and to offer structured international mobility.