From 1 October 2017, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), of which DCU is a member, will be represented on the European stage by a permanent Brussels office. Representing the network is Olga Wessels, who will be working to boost its visibility and harness the ECIU and its member universities’ influence in Brussels.
ECIU’s interests in Brussels
The ECIU is a collaboration between 12 research-intensive universities and aims to create societal impact through innovation and creativity. Within the network, ECIU members work together to obtain information from European institutions to influence the debate on the European funding programmes. The network strengthens its presence in Brussels with the ECIU Brussels office, which will officially open on 1 October 2017. The timing could not be more perfect as the European Commission is set to begin preparations for new European programmes in 2018. The programmes that are currently most relevant for ECIU universities are Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF), which includes regional funds. The successors of these programmes will start in 2021.
Goal: visibility and influence at European level
Victor van der Chijs, ECIU President, sees the Brussels’ office as a major step forward for the consortium: “Brussels is the place to be, for showing what ECIU is capable of. By challenging conventional thinking, ECIU’s mission, we will be able to play a proactive role in preparing the upcoming European programmes and policies.” As representative of the ECIU, Olga Wessels plans to contribute to setting the agenda at the European level, which will lead to a stronger ECIU profile, increasing the organization’s visibility as a potential and reliable partner for European institutions in debates on policy and programme developments.
In the development of European funding programmes, European institutions rely on networks like the ECIU for advice and expertise. As a consultant, the ECIU will be able to secure a position as an important stakeholder. This new position and the information obtained at an early stage will help ECIU member universities prepare for upcoming programmes.
The necessity of an office in Brussels
The ECIU has experience contributing to European policy debates. The consortium has played an active role in the past and has ambitions to strengthen and intensify its presence in these debates. The ECIU currently has a European Affairs Working Group that focuses on exchanging information and sharing experiences with other participating universities. A permanent representative in Brussels ensures a quick coordination of ECIU replies to requests for advice and consultancy. The Brussels office will work closely with the EU Steering Committee which consists of Liaison Officers of every member institution.
The ECIU representative: Olga Wessels and her role in Brussels
Olga Wessels has been active in Brussels education and research networks for several years and has relevant contacts at the European Commission, the European Parliament and other institutions. Olga Wessels about the ECIU office: “With this presence in Brussels we show that we are here – and that we have big plans. Brussels will be hearing from us.”