Category: news

2021 Year in Review

2021 Year in Review

In another challenging year since beginning of the pandemic, UnILiON continued its successful collaboration among the universities’ liaison offices in Brussels.

The Core had 9 meetings during the year. In line with the recommendations on social distancing, 2 of these were held in physical format, allowing members to come together and enjoy the spirit of the personal conversations again. Our members had fruitful discussions to help our organisations prepare for the new Horizon Europe programme. We organised 7 Open Talk events about the most relevant topics in Brussels for interested colleagues and researchers.

The 5 thematically running working groups met 15 times in 2021. During these meetings we listened to excellent presentations and received first-hand information about the new initiatives and programmes from the representatives of the European institutions.

Building on the successful experience of the previous year, we organised a brokerage event for the new European University Alliances call to create opportunities for collaboration among our universities.

The network is constantly growing, in 2021 we welcomed the following institutions and their Brussels offices among our members:

  • University of Turin
  • University of Zagreb
  • Politecnico di Torino
  • ISG | Business & Economics School
UnILiON signs open letter calling for UK’s association to Horizon Europe to be implemented now

UnILiON signs open letter calling for UK’s association to Horizon Europe to be implemented now

Dear President von der Leyen,

We are writing as representatives of the European Union’s research and innovation community representing over 1,000 universities and universities of applied sciences, 56 academies of science, 38 research performing and funding organisations, 33 rectors’ conferences, as well as 120 regional organisations. We also represent many of Europe’s leading researchers individually, including over 10,000 grantees of the European Research Council (ERC), and over 20,000 holders of a Marie-Sklodowska Curie Action award (MSCA), as well as doctoral candidates in almost every member state.

Together, we jointly support the United Kingdom’s association to Horizon Europe as soon as possible. Horizon Europe’s success will hinge on its commitment to excellence and global outlook. The only way to move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic is as a global community working together to drive research and innovation through collaboration.

We have a long history of close and trusted collaboration and shared success with the UK. The strength of those partnerships has provided enormous benefits to excellent research, resulting in countless collaborations to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges, boosting competitiveness and growth.

A strong framework programme in research and innovation is essential for the EU to succeed in the twin green and digital transitions. Europe’s strategic autonomy requires close collaboration with the EU’s closest partner in research and innovation.

The EU knowledge community collectively welcomed the provision in Protocol I of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement for the UK to associate to Horizon Europe. The subsequent Q&A document from the European Commission provided us with the reassurance that UK entities could apply with EU partners for the first multi-beneficiary calls.

Based on the Protocol and those reassurances, for the past 10 months our universities, businesses and research institutions have been working with UK partners with a shared vision and in good faith that the UK would soon be a full associate member.

But the absence of a clear timeline for finalising UK association is now causing increasing concern. This lingering uncertainty risks endangering current and future plans for collaboration.

We are rapidly approaching a crunch point. With the first Horizon Europe grant agreements approaching and new calls soon to be launched, UK association must be finalised without further delay.

Now is the time for swift and decisive action. Further delays or even non-association would result in a missed opportunity and a major weakening of our collective research strength and competitiveness.

We urge the European Commission and UK Government to work towards a successful UK association to Horizon Europe, to safeguard this valuable and mutually beneficial R&I cooperation.



Axel Cleeremans, President of the Association of ERC Grantees (AERG)

Antonio Loprieno, President of All European Academies (ALLEA)

Jón Atli Benediktsson, President of Aurora Universities Network (AURORA)

Rik Van de Walle, President of CESAER

Ludovic Thilly, Chair of the Coimbra Group

Evelina Brännvall, Chair of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA)

Gabi Lombardo, Director of European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH)

Màrius Martínez, President of The European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU)

Pirita Lindholm, Director of the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN)

Michael Murphy, President of the European Universities Association (EUA)

René Medema, Chair of EU-LIFE

Agnieszka Żyra, President of the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc)

Tatiana Panteli, Head of Brussels Office EuroTech Universities Alliance (EuroTech)

Georg Krausch, Chair of German U15

Vincent Blondel, Chair of The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild)

J. Leslie Zachariah-Wolff, Secretary General of IDEA League

Marin Andler, President of Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE)

Karen Maex, Chair of the League of European Research Universities (LERU)

Mostafa Moonir Shawrav, Chair of Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA)

Marc Schiltz, President of Science Europe

Otto Bruun, Chairman of Universities of Applied Sciences for Europe (UAS4EUROPE)

Christine Clerici, President of UDICE French Research Universities (UDICE)

Luciano Saso, President of the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA)

Alexandru Marchis Vasile, Chair of the Universities Informal Liaison Offices Network (UnILiON)

Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, President of the Young European Research Universities (YERUN)

Download the letter as PDF

Forward looking: Sharing reflections in the fields of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

Forward looking: Sharing reflections in the fields of Higher Education, Research and Innovation

UnILiON had the pleasure of hosting a forward-looking event and exchange with two representatives of the French permanent representation in Brussels – our first event in personal presence after the pandemic, on Tuesday 12 October 2021 from 1.00 pm to 2.30 pm.

At the invitation of the UnILiON members Aix-Marseille Université and Berlin Unviersity Alliance, Aline Humbert, Counsellor for Higher Education, Training and Youth and David Itier, Counsellor for Science and Technology at the Permanent Representation of France to the European Union, discussed with 45 university representatives from the UnILiON family, what future developments are likely to/could potentially emerge during the upcoming French presidency of the Council of the EU.

The backdrop will be the need to re-launch after the Covid crisis, ensuring, that belongingness to the European Union will be the core of the Union, supporting its strong and coherent role in the world. The discussions included the future developments for the European University Networks, the European Research Area, the Pact on Research and Innovation and how their newest developments can be tested and implemented in practice. Cooperation among EU, national and local actors was identified as key to the success of the Missions, disruptive innovation and the possible Communication on a European Innovation Area are areas of high interest and so is the development of international science cooperation.

UnILiON representatives raised several topics

  • on the role of universities inter alia in the partnerships,
  • on the future development of the ERA governance framework,
  • on innovation hubs, the role of their various actors and the synergies between them,
  • on international cooperation especially regarding the European University Alliances,
  • on the future of the European Educational Area and its link with research,
  • on funding commensurate to the aspirations envisaged e.g. by Missions or European University Alliances, and
  • on the role the Missions could play in the future development of European Science Policy.

After the ongoing Slovenian Presidency that will end on 31 December 2021, France will be holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 January 2022 until 30 June 2022.

European Universities Initiative brokerage event

European Universities Initiative brokerage event

Following the latest developments of the European Commission regarding the European Universities Initiative (EUI), there will be new calls for new EUI alliances to be funded under Erasmus+ starting from next year. The Universities Informal Liaison Offices NetworkUnILiON, invites members to participate in a brokerage event on the morning of 4 November. In this event we expect:

  • Currently not funded EUI consortia to pitch their EUI idea and open a partner search to enlarge their consortium;
  • Interested Higher Education Institutions currently not part of EUI alliances to promote their profile to either find a match with a currently not funded EUI or develop a new EUI consortium;
  • Potential associate partners to present themselves (Higher Education Institutions not located in Erasmus+ programme countries, chambers of commerce, research centres, incubators, regional authorities and NGOs).

Should you be interested in participating in the brokerage event, we kindly ask you to complete the following form, informing us about your Organisation, and the profile you are seeking. The deadline for completing the registration form is on Monday 25/10.