The Aurora Alliance, of which the University of Iceland is a member, has been awarded a 2 million EUR grant from the Horizon 2020 – Science with and for Society (SwafS) - programme to strengthen and empower research support and innovation within the alliance. The University of Iceland managed the application process on behalf of the Aurora Alliance and will coordinate the project.
The grant will enable the University of Iceland to develop and implement a joint strategy for increasing support for research and innovation together with the 8 other partner universities in the Aurora Alliance. The strategy will, for example, enable the sharing of research infrastructure, strengthen and align Open Science policies in line with EU frameworks and provide new training and support mechanisms for researchers. The objective of the Aurora research and innovation collaboration is to enhance the societal impact of research activities and support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Unique opportunity for a knowledge-based society in Iceland
The Aurora research and innovation collaboration represents a major opportunity for the University of Iceland and Icelandic society, since Aurora Alliance members are highly regarded, comprehensive research universities that place a strong emphasis on social responsibility. A joint strategy for research and innovation will give Icelandic researchers access to equipment, technology, expertise and support services at other Aurora universities. They will also have the opportunity to work closely with the partner universities to foster research that promotes societal innovation to tackle major global challenges such as climate change, sustainability, health and wellbeing, and ensuring strong foundations for democracy and equality.
The collaboration will, furthermore, help the University continue to develop and advance our Open Science strategy, ensuring that as many people as possible are able to use the output of research carried out at the University. Open access to data, research results and academic publications for both Icelandic and international stakeholders means that they can be more effectively used to improve education, further advance science and innovation and benefit society. As the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of open science is plain to see. The development of COVID-19 vaccines is an excellent example of how open science can facilitate effective cooperation between scientists all over the world, who have succeeded in creating vaccines in record time by openly sharing information and new knowledge. This success shows how strong international scientific collaboration can be key in tackling other major challenges facing communities around the world.
The Aurora Alliance includes the entire University community
The Aurora Alliance is part of a new flagship initiative from the European Commission, the European Universities Initiative. The goal is to foster deep cooperation between universities on an unprecedented level to achieve systemic and structural changes in higher education in line with the urgent challenges facing our societies. The Aurora Alliance has been selected as one of the European Universities Alliances and has already received a three-year grant of EUR 5 million to fund a diverse range of activities to develop and implement innovative learning and teaching practices. The Aurora Alliance provides significant opportunities to increase the quality of study programmes and give students and staff at UI the chance to take part in robust international collaboration.
In order to achieve the full potential of the Aurora Alliance, it is essential that the entire University community is engaged in this important transformation.