The Interregional Internationalisation Initiative University Network (3i Network) is a collaboration founded by Ghent University, KU Leuven, the University of Kent and the University of Lille. The main goal of the network is to bring together universities, regional governments and the private sector/civil society to work on challenges common to Flanders, Kent and the Hauts-de-France. By virtue of their proximity, the three regions share challenges in a number of areas, including, but not limited to, marine and maritime questions (blue energy, preservation of the coastal environment…), climate and energy (net zero, sustainability, energy security etc)., health and nutrition (diabetes, cancer…) and well-being and community (e.g. migration and refugee studies, vulnerability and inclusion of ageing populations and people with disabilities).
The founding universities are convinced that cooperation encourages innovation and creativity and can result in projects which benefit the population, businesses and other organisations in their respective regions. To maximize impact and the full innovation potential of European ecosystems, experience shows that strong territorial innovation ecosystems based on excellence are essential. These ecosystems connect players from the entire value chain to create an environment conducive to the development of innovation, including disruptive innovation, to be commercialized and exploited.
These ecosystems are based on the called quadruple helix:
- Academia and research: universities and research organisations, vocational training providers, technology transfer offices…
- Public bodies: regional and local authorities, innovation agencies, public-supported incubators and accelerators ….
- Private sector: businesses (SMEs, starts-up, large companies…), clusters, chambers, private incubators and accelerators …
- Civil society: end-users, NGOs, associations, unions, etc.