The innovation performance of the EU is growing, but not fast enough to ensure our future welfare. Modern universities as leading centres of innovation need to be empowered to create more innovation impacts, across all their core functions, notably education, research, knowledge transfer, engaging with citizens in science and other public services. This has to be nurtured by the culture of the university and its institutional set-up. The core attributes and functions of modern universities should enable excellence, innovation and openness to the world. Excellence must be at the centre of research – including incentives for inter- and trans-disciplinarity. Openness must be at the centre of the research mind-set. Internationalisation and cross-border open research practices must be embedded in programmes.
In the current and future world of research it will be important to adapt education models and experiment with new forms of open education and learning empowered by digitisation. It is essential to provide, train and reward young talent with future skills for the jobs of tomorrow. Universities should go beyond their educational missions and become regional hubs for education and innovation exchange, promoting joint curricula with industry. Structural collaboration with local and regional stakeholders will further facilitate science-industry cooperation. Stronger links and coherence between European Research Area and European Higher Education Area by better aligning the objectives and priorities is crucial.