7 - Mechanisms for the management of University-Business relationships

7.2. Creating networks as a means to facilitating interaction


Networking has a strong impact on the process of Innovation since it acts as a catalyst for cooperation between the agents involved. Therefore companies should strive to create thematic and functional networks which incentivise and promote interaction between their nodes. These networks should be provided with specific instruments which facilitate such interaction and it is important to assign a significant role to Universities in the design of both the networks and the management tools which are necessary to successfully maintain them.


RIO Programme (Austria)

The RIO Programme project was established in 2004 in the region of Oberösterreich (Austria) and operated until 2006. It involved the creation of networks or nodes in five different areas: Human Resources, Logistics, Technology and Innovation Research, Design and Media, and Regional Development. The project's main objectives were to mobilise companies, research institutes, schools, public institutions and support service providers (or intermediary agents) around the five networks and develop tools to encourage and promote interaction and development in each of these nodes. Thanks to the initiative more than 130 participants took part in some 38 joint projects, thereby improving interaction and cooperation between all the agents involved. The RIO Programme also encouraged the creation of closer links between Universities and Companies.

One of the most interesting resources developed for the networks was a series of forums aimed at the optimisation of troubleshooting processes and the dissemination of results. The forums offered lectures or meetings in which projects could be presented and discussed.

The networks also provided support for the initiation of collaborative projects, as well as advice on access to funding, and technical assistance in project development and the dissemination of results.

€2.5 million of EU ERDF funds were allocated for the implementation of the network initiative and the project was included in one of the Innovatives OÖ strategic programmes which are promoted by public institutions in the region.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

This is another solution which requires the collaboration of a range of companies, research centres and universities to fully succeed since its strength lies in the mutual exchange of information between participants. In theory, funding should be shared between Companies, Universities and Public Administrations.

In the examples listed above, all the activities were financed by European Union funds.

View explanatory caption


  1. http://www.ooe2010.at/ - Innovatives OÖ - 2010.
  2. http://www.rio-ooe.at/ - RIO Programme (Regionales Innovation-Systems Oberösterreich).