19 September 2011, by Prof Frans van Vught
Like in many other parts of the world, the European Union (EU) sees ‘innovation’ as a crucial response to the current global economic crisis, and higher education and research institutions are assumed to be major actors in this context. The EU focus on innovation has its own history. Since the beginning of this century and in response to the ongoing process of globalisation the EU has set its own ‘innovation agenda’. In this agenda knowledge is seen as the new strategic production factor. The creation, transfer and application of knowledge are assumed to be of prime importance for the processes of economic and social reorientation and development. As a consequence the EU has become more active and assertive in its efforts to influence the behaviour of higher education and research organisations.