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Looking Back at the 2021 University-Industry Interaction Conference

The 2021 online University-Industry Interaction Conference took place from June 14th-16th, bringing together over 400 university and business professionals from across the globe for its 9th annual edition. With an extensive line-up including keynote panels, workshops, networking and information sessions, regional gatherings and presentations on the latest research, practice and case-study insights, the conference once again confirmed its position as one of the leading events in the field of university-industry engagement.  

Some of the key highlights of the conference included: 

  • The opening Future of Universities keynote panel, in which several higher education leaders shared their insights on driving change and entrepreneurship in higher education, revealing that one of the biggest barriers in changing the system might actually be the academic system itself;  
  • Inspiring presentations on women entrepreneurship and leadership in higher education as well as discussions emphasising the need to create more inclusive campus climates to prepare for the future of global higher education; 
  • University and industry experts sharing their approaches towards strategic partnerships and measuring and evaluating university-industry engagement in engaging panel discussions; 
  • Hands-on workshops that challenged us to think about ways to measure the impact and success of knowledge and technology transfer, and prepare for the future university using strategic foresight and successful collaboration competencies, and  
  • A great variety of presentations providing participants with insights, tools and case studies to drive entrepreneurial education, activities and mindset, as well as enhance collaboration and engagement with industry, society and government. 


It was great to hear the excellent work and efforts from our contributors who continue to find ways to innovate and drive collaboration to shape the future of higher education, despite the lockdown world we have been living in. We were also pleased to host more business speakers this year, bringing both the academic and industry perspectives on accelerating and nurturing strategic university-industry partnerships. Representatives of some of the world’s largest multinationals as well as start-ups and SMEs, shared their industry perspective and expertise in university engagement during keynote panels and presentations of all categories and managed to take home several UIIN awards. It was also inspiring to see several presentations jointly delivered by university representatives together with their industry partners, truly highlighting the collaborative nature of their work.  

While reflecting on these conference highlights, we would also once again like to congratulate the winners and runners-up of the 2021 UIIC Awards for their impressive work in the categories:


Outstanding Practitioner
Award winners:
Basilio Fernández from SMEBOOK and María José Herrero Villa from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid 
Scott Poole and James Rose from University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Johnny Scotello from Local Motors 

Excellent Research
Award winners:
Efrosyni Konstantinou and Kimberly Cornfield from University College London​ 
Peter Egorov from Siemens 

Best Case Study
Award winners:
Sebastian Dreßen and Ilaria Carrara Cagni from Siemens​ 
Ruth Mayoral López, Igor Campillo Santos from Euskampus Fundazioa and Miren Artaraz from the Basque Government  


Although we cannot wait for our in-person conferences to resume and facilitate connections with like-minded professionals over a true cup of coffee, the virtual format also provided advantages in terms of accessibility and inclusivity, as reflected in both the session themes and global reach with people joining from over 30 countries.  

The conference also provided space for insights into current collaborative research projects and institutional development opportunities, inspiring and encouraging participants to stay connected and enhance their external engagement to prepare their institutions for a rapidly and continuously changing higher education landscape. In case you missed the conference or are interested to read more about the contributions, the conference proceedings are now available in the UIIN store, members area and the conference platform

In line with this, we invite you to stay connected and keep sharing your work and ideas, and we already look forward to hearing how all projects evolved at next year’s conference. We hope to see you there! 

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