Participation in clusters enables higher education institutions to provide students of different performance levels with practical activities in various projects. In addition, the connection to concrete projects for the students also creates perspectives for subsequent employment. In addition, applied research can be better oriented to the real needs of companies and possibly also open up additional financial resources. Many higher education institutions are already involved in cluster structures, but these often exist only in theoretical connections and do not show any real activities. They often exist only in associations within single sectors, thematically and also spatially very limited and not following the real purpose.
The overall objective of the project is to develop the potential of higher education institutions to increase their participation in clusters with agricultural enterprises. This should be done on different levels of education (Master - PhD). Companies, science and education should be sensitized in this respect in order to create interesting educational offers within clusters. This also requires adapted administrative structures, research work that is as adapted as possible to real needs, and organizational forms that promote innovation and are based on sustainability principles.
Status of the project
In the first year of the project, the planned work processes were concretized and attempts were made to adapt them as a result of the COVID crisis. As the project is especially designed for information exchange, this is a particular challenge. Previous meetings could only be held online. The BAB, responsible for work package 2 - development - together with the second Austrian partner HAUP collected information on different Austrian cluster activities and presented them. In interviews with cluster managers, detailed information on the functioning of clusters was obtained for individual clusters; this information was also discussed and presented to the project partners.
In 2021, work will continue on communicating and discussing information. In the project as a whole, special modules for master and doctoral studies will be developed (e.g. statistics, project development, econometrics with consideration of current challenges such as climate change, food security or poverty reduction), special trainings and study visits of representatives from companies, science and research will be arranged. How far the COVID crisis will allow this and cause delays cannot be estimated at the moment. The preconditions for the creation of clusters in agriculture, processing industry such as dairy production, processing with a focus on local products, biotechnology and poultry farming, rural tourism, aquaculture and water management are to be analyzed and prepared together with the project partners in order to then install so-called expertise centers and clusters in various universities in Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova towards the end of the project. Due to delays in the work flow as a result of the COVID crisis, a project extension of 12 months is being considered, but has not yet been fixed in concrete terms.
Project start: January 2020
End of project: December 2022