See ECIU University

ECIU collaboration

A success story of like-minded friends

The European Consortium of Innovative Universities, ECIU, was founded in 1997 and is the leading international consortium of research-intensive universities, with collective emphasis on innovation, creativity, and societal impact, driving the development of a knowledge-based economy. The mission is to ‘challenging conventional thinking’ with a focus on ‘innovation in teaching and learning'and ‘entrepreneurship and societal impact of research’. 

What is ECIU all about?

‘It is a consortium of young universities that share their core values. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in the DNA of our members. We all come from regions where the economy came under pressure following the decline of traditional sectors such as textile and shipping. The universities are the result of a regional need to have highly educated people for the economy of the future and to develop new industries. That is why all partners have very close ties to their region and the industry, while also having an international mindset.’

What does the consortium do?

‘We know each other very well. We learn from each other about governance, the structure of our education and entrepreneurship. We all value mobility and internationalisation and we encourage our employees and students to seek out collaboration. We do that by offering  shared minors, joint masters, and travel grants for researchers. Project- and problem-based learning are at the core of the ECIU universities’ education. Students combine theoretical and practical aspects so they are optimally prepared for the world of tomorrow.’

Why is this collaboration so important?

‘We speak with a single voice and protect our interests together, for example in our dealings with the European Union. Universities are hardly heard as a single institution. Instead, they have a voice with impact as a member of a group of likeminded universities. The advantage for policy makers is that they speak to a group of universities across Europe with a long track record in regional innovation, entrepreneurship and innovative teaching. This lobby allows us to put important themes on the agenda and promote our expertise.’

What does the future hold for the ECIU?

‘The world around us is changing rapidly and we face new questions from society and industries. We want to create significant impact on society. That is why we embrace our role as life-long educators. With interdisciplinary research, open innovation and international education we link our universities to society. In ECIU our shared background and values are crucial for our collaboration. We will continue our efforts to make a difference at regional, national and international level.’

Member universities

With the members we share commitment to the development of high-quality educational practices which promote innovation and the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. All partners value a strong nexus between research and teaching in order to fulfil such a vision and strive to provide a modern, engaging and research-intensive learning environment, which builds on the diversity and collective strength of our respective institutional cultures, our approaches to teaching, and our students. Like UT, the ECIU has a specific interest in seeking out creative, learning-centred and future-focused teaching approaches that foster social entrepreneurship and smart use of technology.

Who is who

Who is who

  • UT Steering Committee ECIU University

    Freek van der Meer 

    Dean of the Faculty Geo-information and Earth Observation (ITC)

    Head UT Steering Committee ECIU University

    Maarten van Steen 

    Scientific Director Digital Society Institute

    Member of the Steering Committee with focus on challenge-based research

    Leonie Bosch

    Educational consultant

    Member of the Steering Committee with focus on challenge-based learning

    Atilla Kerpisci

    Managing Director Strategic Business Development

    Member of the Steering Committee with focus on challenge-based innovation  

    Miranda Bonhke

    Stephan Maathuis 

    Institutional Erasmus coordinator

    Managing Director Faculty EEMCS

    Member of the Steering Committee with focus on mobility

    Member of the Steering Committee 

    Simone Oolhorst

    Head student affairs & services

    Member of the Steering Committee with focus on joint support services & structures

    Ratna Toering

    Head of communication

    Member of the Steering Committee with focus on marketing & communication & dissemination

    Derk Jan Fikkers

    Director of Strategy & Policy

    Member of the Steering Committee

    Inge Boomkamp

    Programme Manager

    Member of the Steering Committee

  • ECIU Brussels' Office

    The activities in Brussels are coordinated by the ECIU Brussels’ Office and the Steering Committee EU Policy and Research. Head of the ECIU Brussels’ Office is Olga Wessels. 


  • Challenge-based ECIU University is born

    ECIU University, the first European university where learners and researchers cooperate with cities, regions and businesses to solve real-life challenges, was launched last week in Barcelona. The University of Twente has been selected to coordinate the initiative. UT-employee Sander Lotze has been appointed as the project director.

    The official kick-off of the ECIU University was hosted by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ECIU’s Spanish member. Using its facilities at the Bellaterra campus and the UAB Casa Convalescència in Barcelona, the ECIU University Board met for the first time. Typical new for this university is the participation of representatives of the industry and government in the Board. Onno van Veldhuizen, mayor of Enschede, will be one of them.

    The objective of the new international university is to establish a new concept of international university, going beyond regular European collaboration. Education will be based on solving challenges, embedded international mobility and collaborations among universities. Learners will get micro-credentials for short, very specialised training courses, and a competence “passport” which will provide an individualised account of what each student has learned and the skills acquired.

    With regard to research and knowledge transfer, a series of living labs will be created in both physical and online spaces where university researchers will work directly with businesses and institutions in the definition and monitoring of projects. Moreover, three Challenge Innovation Hubs will be set up in northern, central and southern Europe. They will be coordinated each by Linköping University (Sweden), Hamburg University of Technology (Germany) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain).

    In this pilot phase the ECIU University focuses on challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

    ECIU University was one of 17 international initiatives selected by the European Commission after a call for European Universities as part of the EU Erasmus+ programme. The project will receive 5 million Euros in funding over three years.

  • Launch event European Universities Brussels

    ECIU University was one of 17 international initiatives selected by the European Commission, after it announced a call for European Universities as part of the EU Erasmus+ programme.

    All 17 university alliances convened in Brussels on 7 November to discuss the transformative role of the European Universities initiative for higher education.

    Tibor Navracsics, European commissioner responsible for higher education, and European ministers responsible for higher education, attended the event.


    The ground-breaking ECIU University project aims to respond to the new challenges posed by the evolution of society. "We use this pilot to deepen our collaboration', says ECIU President, Victor van de Chijs during the launch event.

  • University of Nottingham wins ECIU Team Award

    The Students as Change Agents project of the University of Nottingham has won the prestigious European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) Team Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Carina Neil, Matthew Watts and Dean Lymath received the prize at the special ceremony held at the University of Barcelona on the occasion of the ECIU Board Meeting, last Friday in Barcelona.

    The award was given for the inspiring work in enabling Nottingham students to work in partnership with staff to make positive changes to the curriculum and to their experiences there. 

    Students design their own project to improve teaching and learning. By doing so, not only do the students developing the projects learn a lot, but other students will be positively influenced by the results, thus amplifying the impact on student development. In the last five years, the Students as Change Agents (SACA) team have supported nearly 200 students to become “change agents” who have run over 50 projects which have benefited over 5000 students to date.

    SACA has contributed to a culture change in the university enabling greater openness and collaboration between staff and students. By having students involved in the processes of change, it ensures that they are fit for purpose to the modern student.

    More specifically, changes that the projects supported by SACA have established the Peer Assisted Study Support scheme to support first year Maths students and develop their interpersonal, communication and fundamental mathematical skills. ‘Students as Change Agents’ is an excellent example of the ECIU slogan ‘challenge conventional thinking’, says the jury report.

    The second place was given to the ‘C-lab’ project from the University of Trento. In this project the students work in multidisciplinary teams on entrepreneurial challenges, and alumni have a role in the project as coaches. The central idea in this project has a very strong relationship with the community outside academia; as such it is a very strong learning environment for the students.

     The ECIU Team Award is given to the team who have successfully delivered an educational innovation that challenges conventional thinking. This prize has the purpose of promoting, celebrating and disseminating innovative projects in teaching and learning developed by inter-disciplinary groups. It is an initiative of the ECIU members, who share a commitment towards high quality educational practice and who seek to give visibility to exemplary, innovative pedagogical practice.

    The applications are available for download on Google PlayStore and is free of charge for Android.