Engagement Readiness Monitor

Engagement Readiness Monitor






Unibo structure involved: Department of Management - DISA
Scientific Manager: Rosa Grimaldi
Unibo Team: Rosa Grimaldi, Elisa Villani, Silvia Poli
Project Web page: https://engagementready.eu
Erasmus+ Action type: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices Strategic Partnerships for higher education
Project reference: 2020-1-NL01-KA203-064534
Start Date: 1 November 2020
End Date: 31 October 2022
Budget:       Total  290,967        UNIBO € 49,858 



Under the policy mechanisms, Europe 2020 Strategy and the EU Growth Agenda, Europe has sought a more connected relationship between society, government, business and higher education institutions (HEIs) in order to increase employment, productivity and social cohesion. The EU is promoting knowledge and technology circulation by HEIs, and the involvement of citizens, academia and industry to ultimately provide more relevant education and turn research results and innovations into sustainable solutions with economic value and societal benefits. However, despite the existing policy support, HEI engagement on a European level remains low and cooperation among the key actors in Europe is still in the early stages of development (Davey et al. 2018).

There is widespread consensus that the potential for HEIs to make meaningful contributions to their cities, regions and nations remains underdeveloped. Whether it is in developing the future talent to power our economies, supporting employees develop their careers, offering important discoveries, supporting the development of a region or supporting the launching of new organisations and industries, there remains considerable scope for improvement. However, through national funding frameworks, European HEIs are generally focused on graduating significant numbers of students, securing funding for their research, attaining accreditation and achieving success on international rankings, often with little strategic regard to engagement or market alignment. Instead of there being a whole-of-institution orientation towards integrating engagement in the research and educational missions, the engagement function is often essentially outsourced to the knowledge transfer office.

Resultantly, whilst there has been a tacit acknowledgement by HEI leadership of the need to engage with external actors, often lacking is a robust, strategic and aligned institutional approach to engagement and towards (regional) partnerships. Needed, is a greater awareness around the means and factors that enable external engagement as well as more strongly developed institutional mechanisms (strategies, structures and approaches) to support engagement. A further issue relates to the lack of tools that holistically support HEI engagement as most focus on a single area of engagement (e.g. entrepreneurship) or lack depth. Measurement of university engagement occurs however invariably focusses on quantitative outcome metrics such as patents, license, spin-out and research contracts, ignoring many valid forms of engagement and the mechanisms that need to be in place for engagement to occur.


However, to what extent universities are ready to cooperate and how to enhance their readiness and in which particular areas of cooperation and how remains a challenge. Given this background, The Engagement Readiness Monitor project will investigate and enhance the factors which make HEIs more likely to engage with companies by developing Engagement Readiness Investigation Report IO1, Engagement Readiness Self-Assessment Framework IO2 and Engagement Readiness Toolkit IO3.

More specifically, the project has the following objectives:

  • to gain an in-depth understanding of universities’ engagement with business and their readiness to cooperate in various engagement activities
  • to develop a novel tool enabling the evaluation of the university engagement readiness at institutional level
  • to design the Engagement Readiness Toolkit that will help increase the readiness of the universities to develop cooperation with business

The Engagement Readiness Monitor project places an emphasis on measuring the readiness of the university to engage, rather than just addressing standard indicators measuring only the quantifiable outputs of engagement and cooperation activities of universities with businesses. It places more effort in expanding on these metrics to cover a wider set of engagement activities including not only traditional research and education, but also valorisation and governance. The self-assessment tool will allow for measuring the readiness of HEIs to cooperate in different activities and through provision of the tools, roadmap and further materials created as a result of the project will help increase their readiness with the intention to ultimately turn them into engagement ready and subsequently into engaged universities.

The Engagement Readiness Monitor project is designed to positively impact HEIs and its business partners in measuring and scaling their cooperation activities, increasing their societal contribution to business community and society at large. It will offer critical insights into UBC leading to a development of a self-assessment tool to measure engagement readiness and a toolkit to help increase readiness at institutional level. Ultimately, it will develop the knowledge and tangible means needed to scale the engagement of HEIs with business.