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European University E³UDRES² presents new education model


An innovative concept of modern teaching, transdisciplinary learning and transferring creative solutions to regional communities empowers students to adapt to an ever-changing working reality. This is demonstrated by the European University Alliance E³UDRES² (The Engaged and Entrepreneurial European University as Driver for European Smart and Sustainable Regions).

The alliance now launches the first edition of its so-called I Living Labs – a recently developed education model targeting three different skill-levels and thereby providing students with a decisive edge for the job market:

  1. Firstly, the students learn how to work in transdisciplinary teams, becoming competent in considering skills, needs and wishes of team members with different backgrounds.
  2. Secondly, they learn to apply their academic training on solving real life-problems that confront regional stakeholders resulting in both a benefit for the involved regions and a commitment to society.
  3. Thirdly, the skills acquired in the I Living Labs are methods the students can rely on when facing complex problems in future jobs – thus the students assume the role of change agents in their own local communities.

People’s jobs and the requirements they are faced with change faster and faster. Traditional academic education hardly prepares students for this rapidly changing working environment, because it mostly does not impart skills needed for adaptation to changes.

Therefore, today’s students require additional analytic, creative and social skills to meet the needs of the labour market and to be able to compete in it. Now with the I Living Labs, the European University Alliance E³UDRES² offers its students a tailor-made innovative concept for developing exactly such skills for future jobs.


A first important aspect of the I Living Labs is working in exceptionally transdisciplinary teams guided by education professionals (“facilitators”). For those teams, students of different nationalities and backgrounds work together with local entrepreneurs, policymakers, citizens and researchers. The benefit of such transdisciplinarity is tangible in the activities of the I Living Labs: “Thinking out of the box” becomes simple.

Additionally taught and learned are problem-solving abilities, creativity in dealing with obstacles, learning to deal with uncertainties and having the courage to change direction if the situation demands for it. Feedback from other teams or local stakeholders to the students might lead them to discard, adapt or develop their ideas further – thereby repeatedly focusing on the core of the problem they are working on and considering other points of view. Those feedback-loops are called “Resonating Innovation Cycles” and represent a key feature of the teaching approaches designed by E³UDRES². All those skills offered to the students provide essential assets for the job market and are a tremendous advantage for them.


Working in I Living Labs also means a committment to society. Students tackle real-life problems originating from the region and work together with stakeholders representing parts of the local community. The solutions developed by the transdisciplinary teams will be transferred into the local communities and will generate a positive impact on the regions. By this, not only the students’ abilities grow, but also the regions benefit from the I Living Labs.

In this year’s run, about 100 students will work in 12 different I Living Labs, together with 35 facilitators from the 6 different E³UDRES² higher education institutions as well as 15 local stakeholders. They deal with challenges to transform their surroundings into smart and sustainable regions – a core topic E³UDRES² focuses on in its work. This year’s I Living Labs’ challenges together address all research areas of E³UDRES² , namely Circular Economy, Human Contribution to Artificial Intelligence and Wellbeing & Active Ageing. For example, one team works on a challenge dealing with how to make e-mobility sustainable by principles of circular economy. Another team addresses the question of improving healthcare access for the elderly through digitalization, and yet another concentrates on raising awareness and strengthening students’ mental health in higher education.

The I Living Labs will repeatedly take placeover the next years, increasing the number of challenges, participants and stakeholders each year in order go grow the impact of the event.


By working in the I Living Labs, students train important skills necessary for the future job market. But the I Living Labs are by far more than that: Students will be able to take this innovative tool for mastering challenges with them in their future professional lives. Students that have participated in an I Living Lab are prepared to take up roles as so-called “change agents” whenever needed in future jobs. And thus they carry the competences learned in the E³UDRES² I Living Labs out in their own local communities afterwards.

E³UDRES² is one of 41 European University Alliances – a flagship initiative by the European Union. The alliance aims to co-create a European multi-university campus that will act as a source of smart and sustainable innovations for small or medium-sized towns and their surrounding rural areas. In doing so, E³UDRES² will contribute to the European Education, Research and Innovation Area. The alliance funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission comprises six higher education institutions that represent 55.700 students, 7.300 staff and 43 faculties from six countries. Namely these institutions are: the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences (Austria), the Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal (Portugal), the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Hungary), the UC Leuven-Limburg UAS (Belgium), the Politehnica University Timișoara (Romania) and the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (Latvia).

Together as E³UDRES², the institutions aim to establish joint degrees and modules, research groups, living labs, innovation centers as well as pools of experts and open resources. “We also will engage in activities that promote open and engaged knowledge exchanges that contribute and interact with regional communities”, adds Hannes Raffaseder, “and our I Living Labs are an innovative tool in achieving this.”

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