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NTNU European Conference 2020

NTNU European Conference 2020

NTNU in collaboration with Elsevier and UnILiON would like to invite you to the 5th edition of the NTNU European Conference

“Knowledge for a Better World: The need for Sustainability and Collaboration in a disruptive age” that will be held as an online event on the 18th of January 2021 from 10.00 to 13.15.
This conference will represent an opportunity to discuss the contribution that Universities provide in terms of research, innovation and education to sustainable development, and to debate on models and approaches that could be applied in the future.

Among confirmed speakers:
Anne Borg (Rector, NTNU), Jean-Eric Paquet (Director-General, DG RTD, European Commission), Themis Christophidou (Director General, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission), Kumsal Bayazit (Chief Executive Officer, Elsevier) , Peter Lievens (Vice Rector of International Policy and LERU, KU Leuven), Martin Paul (President, Maastricht University), Angela Ittel (Vice President, TU Berlin), Armand Sánchez (Vice-Rector for Research and Transference, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Erik Renström (Rector electus, Lund University) and many others.

For more information about the conference and the full programme, please visit the website:


UnILiON Annual Event 2020

UnILiON Annual Event 2020

The world is still adapting to a new reality that was unfathomable few months ago. With university closures, the Covid-19 pandemic has introduced abrupt changes in teaching and learning and interupted the majority of reseach activites. This health crisis provides us with a unique opportunity to explore new approaches to deliver high quality education, excellent science and innovations that are more than ever needed to build a different model of society.

Our annual conference reviewed direct and knock-on impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic that are reshaping the role of universities and address actionable EU policy recommendations to improve resilience and preparedness across higher education and research institutions. The role that our universities play in the fight against the pandemic was also assessed.

The 2020 UnILiON annual conference agenda addressed:

  • How has Covid-19 created new challenges and played into broader discussions around education, research and innovation?
  • How can universities harness digital education opportunities without jeopardising the quality and accessibility of its formation offer? How should this transition be managed?
  • How can the EU ensure university cooperation in research for rapid response to future global emergencies?

UniLiON Annual Event – Future-proofing the universities of the future from Audio Visual Support on Vimeo.

Read more about our speakers



More than ever, the global Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the true value of excellent research, innovation and education. In the campaign “Seize our common future”, 15 associations representing more than 800 universities have called for an ambitious long-term EU budget for research, innovation and education to boost efforts to solve the manifold future challenges. Today, the same university associations unite and call on European leaders to step up investment in these areas, both in the Multiannual Financial Framework from 2021 to 2027 and Next Generation EU, and to commit to putting sufficient resources behind common ambitions.

Europe’s universities welcome the European Union’s approach to embark on a sustainable recovery path, supported by an ambitious and unprecedented effort to enhance the welfare and strengthen the economic base of the continent. At stake is our shared capacity to successfully tackle global challenges and become a frontrunner in addressing the green and digital transitions. Research, innovation and education are key building blocks to facilitate the European Union’s necessary progress towards sustainability and resilience. Errors made in the past should not be repeated: only long-term, holistic and collaborative approaches will help overcome multi- faceted challenges. Universities across Europe restate their full commitment to contribute to these goals.

Thus, Europe’s universities stand disappointed and concerned by the limited budget proposed for the EU’s flagship programmes Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. The current proposal for Horizon Europe falls far too short of the 120 billion euros that the European Parliament and the university community considered necessary even before Covid-19. A budget cut of more than 3% (compared to the 2018 Commission proposal) for vital instruments such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions and the European Research Council would hamper efforts towards strategic resilience. Under Horizon 2020, this pillar has been central in enabling Europe to move forward in tackling the current pandemic and must therefore be reinforced. For Erasmus+, plans to double (European Commission) or triple (European Parliament) funding for the programme have not been met with a lower proposal of 24.6 billion euros (2018 prices). This is clearly insufficient to meet the new and ambitious policy objectives for the next programme, including support to both physical and virtual mobility and education for all.

Both Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ are investments in our future and in our youth. They will reinforce Europe’s capacities to face today’s challenges, and those yet to come. Such challenges may take various forms and solutions will require mobilising various types of knowledge, citizens, and society.

To drive sustainability, Europe must invest in research and innovation. We urge the European institutions to (1) ensure that the funding programmes support science in all areas; (2) encourage and facilitate collaboration across disciplines and (3) foster timely association of interested non-EU countries to Horizon Europe. Finally, EU leaders must (4) recognise the long-term benefit of strengthening investigator-driven frontier research to achieve a proper balance of bottom-up and top-down approaches, throughout Horizon Europe. Europe’s universities recommend that the funds dedicated to research and innovation within Next Generation EU address holistically all challenges related to the coronavirus crisis through the same balanced approach.

Universities across Europe will contribute best to the common recovery and societal resilience if there are more synergies across research, innovation and education policies and funding programmes, and coordinated efforts between funders at European, national and regional levels.

It is now important to reach an agreement in time so that the European Union can move forward and deliver on its ambitious objectives in 2021. It is also the member states’ duty to intensify efforts in research, innovation and education, so that our societies and economies can benefit from an unprecedented momentum towards a sustainable recovery path. Therefore, we call for a commitment to new and reinforced targets for the proportion of GDP invested in research and innovation, both for public and private funding.

We, universities of Europe, urge European leaders to step up investment in research, innovation and education to foster long- term strategic resilience, enabling Europe to strongly reinforce its role as a global leader in this respect.

An initiative of

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UnILiON dialogue with the chair of the ITRE committee

UnILiON dialogue with the chair of the ITRE committee

On 30 June, UnILiON had the pleasure to host an online meeting with the chair of the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee, Mr Cristian Bușoi, on the negotiations on EU’s future research and innovation policy and the new MFF.

The constructive dialogue focused on several themes, including: the allocation of funds for Horizon Europe in the new MFF, the synergies between Horizon Europe and the Green Deal, the new ERA and the level of public and private investment in R&I in Member States.

Bușoi is hopeful that an agreement can be reached in the negotiations on MFF by the end of the year, during the German Presidency so as to avoid further delays in the implementation of the policies at EU level.

Bușoi stressed the strong efforts of the EP in negotiating with the Council an ambitious budget for Horizon Europe, considering in particular the role of R&I in achieving ambitious results in all EU policy areas. Such a role for R&I has already been demonstrated during the COVID-19 crisis and countries have showed strong support for the ERAvsCorona Action Plan, and to resources allocated to health research from H2020 budget.

Allocating the appropriate resources is especially relevant in the context of the ambitious Green Deal priorities as well as the efforts of member states to continue to mobilise investments for economic recovery. It is ITRE’s opinion that a balanced and ambitious Horizon Europe and a renewed ERA represents the core of this recovery, as this new approach requires strong fundamental and collaborative research as well as taking steps towards innovation.

Moreover, Bușoi expressed his support for the coordination of the research and education policies, explaining that it will lead to improved collaboration and synergies.

According to Bușoi, the ITRE committee is strongly committed to supporting the reinforcement and development of research and innovation in synergy with other EU policy areas. There is commitment for a continuous dialogue with stakeholders, member states and the EC.