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Cross-border Enthusiasm for Science

Steinbeis Romania acts as project partner to European initiative

The European macro-region along the Danube corridor faces a number of societal challenges, with a shortage of skilled workers in the west and a lack of innovative power in the east. There are already some basic concepts for solving the issues on both fronts, mainly through MINT skills (math, IT, natural science, and technology/engineering). Another fundamental approach is to improve people’s handson skills, so-called action competence, which is about applying knowledge in a targeted manner. Steinbeis Romania has now started an initiative to introduce young people in the Danube corridor to the many degree and business options offered in MINT areas.

A socio-economic study on the Danube corridor highlighted an urgent need to take action. Successful concepts like the youth research talent initiative Jugend forscht in Germany do have their equivalents in Eastern Europe, but they don’t deliver the same results. The example most frequently pointed to in Eastern Europe is the Mathematical Olympiad, which is only targeted at specific participants, and knowledge derived from the program bears little relevance to business practice.

Knowledge is also central to the success of the European Early Innovators Initiative (EEII). Steinbeis Transfer Management SRL, based in Bucharest, is now the lead partner in a project that pulls together the essential skills needed to make proper use of knowledge. The other alliance members are the AREA Science Park in Trieste (Italy), the Common Regions NPO from Košice (Slovakia), and the recently founded Steinbeis Transfer Center in the Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod.

The project partners are logging all relevant programs and initiatives along the Danube corridor. Examples of successful funding programs for young people and scientists are being documented and evaluated in terms of the benefits they offer to multiple regions. The results will then be presented and discussed at four international EEII conferences in Bucharest, Bratislava, Trieste, and Uzhhorod, the aim of which will be to match young scientists together to potential business partners. For managers in business, the EEII is an opportunity to gain early access to the latest ideas developed by creative and committed scientists. The team will supervise nine young scientists for the duration of the project, focusing closely on business application. The consortium aims to use the business concepts to show the potential impact of concepts.

Successful ideas will also be discussed with potential investors. This is because an important element of the initiative is to highlight the funding options open to young scientists in developing their business knowledge. In doing so, the EEII will provide concepts for inspiring schoolchildren in MINT topics. Future funding concepts will place an emphasis on private-public partnerships. These offer the required flexibility and facilitate solutions that are tailored to the specific problem.

The coordinators of the EU Danube corridor strategy have picked the EEII in order to focus on the goal of raising competitiveness. In the second round it has been earmarked for backing from the Danube Strategic Project Fund. The EEII is one of twelve funded projects with strong strategic potential to sustainably develop the Danube region. It started out as a European initiative in 2018 and will be continued under the name European Early Innovators Program (EEIP). The results of the EEII are being channeled into three or four specific projects which will be pulled together to form the strategic program. A consortium is being set up to implement the EEIP.