The Interregional Internationalisation Initiative (3i) University Network, comprising four universities in the English Channel and North Sea area – the University of Kent, Universiteit Gent, KU Leuven and the Université de Lille – has been launched with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
The 3i University Network was created to intensify collaboration opportunities and utilise the combined strengths of research, academic and professional training, administration and infrastructure to find solutions for common problems and challenges facing these regions.
Inspired by the 2016 UK-EU referendum and the past 12 months of pandemic, the Network will bring together higher education, regional business and governmental organisations to develop strategies to counter cross-border challenges for Europe.
Professor Jeremy Carrette, Dean for Europe at the University of Kent, said:
‘Throughout the Covid pandemic, ties between European universities have only strengthened due to the urgent need for shared research and for strategies to counter the challenges confronting us all. The 3i University Network knows that cooperation prompts innovation to benefit the people, businesses and organisations of the European region.
‘The Network will also demonstrate that despite departure from the EU, the contribution and benefit of British universities to the continent will continue, as will the gains from our vital collaborations with partners throughout Europe.’
The MoU was signed at the close of 2020 and will start its activities with a series of workshops between March and June 2021, with a focus on identifying research needs and opportunities on urgent issues for the region.
Each workshop will bring together researchers around a particular theme, including: Climate and Energy (University of Kent); Community and Well-Being (Université de Lille); Marine and Maritime Challenges (Universiteit Gent) and Nutrition and Health (KU Leuven). These workshops will allow researchers to meet, present their research and the strengths of each institution, and develop plans for future collaboration.