20 Dec 2018

Thoughts on the Collaboration between ICT Industry and Academia Conclusions from the DIGITALEUROPE Networking Session at IC T2018 in Vienna, Austria

DIGITALEUROPE has been present and active during numerous workshops, bilateral meetings and networking sessions.

We also organised one of them entitled “ICT Industry and Academia: Cracking the Code of Digital Transformation Together”. Four experienced speakers explained how their Universities are collaborating with private ICT sector and what outcome does it bring to students and graduates.

ICT2018 in Vienna was an excellent conference organised by the Austrian EU Presidency and the European Commission. This event can be considered a flagship EU gathering of academia, researchers, innovators, digital champions and leaders in bridging the digital skills gap.

DIGITALEUROPE has been present and active during numerous workshops, bilateral meetings and networking sessions. We also organised a session entitled: ICT Industry and Academia: Cracking the Code of Digital Transformation Together. During the event, four experienced speakers talked about how they are collaborating with private ICT sector and what outcome such collaboration brings to students and graduates.

  1. Mr. Dr Barry Feeney – Head of Computing, Institute of Technology Tallaght (Ireland) spoke of their multiple partnerships with ICT companies, including AWS Academy.
  2. Mr. Giorgio Ventre, Professor of Computer Networks at the Department of Information and Electrical Engineering of the University of Napoli Federico II (Italy) illustrated practical aspects of building curriculum together with Apple Developer Academy to equip students with job-ready technical and soft skills.
  3. Mr. Andrzej Żyławski, President of the Warsaw School of Computer Science (Poland) provided insights on how they acquired EU funding on innovative Master’s Programme in Cloud Computing and partnered with industry via such programs like AWS Academy and AWS Training and Certification.
  4. Finally Mrs. Professor Maria Bielikova, Dean at the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, and Member of High-level Expert Group on AI shared valuable insights on partnership with ICT industry in research projects and translating it onto curriculum for students.


The panel discussed the benefits and the challenges of partnership with private sector in the area of ICT. 

Some major call outs from the discussion:

  1. One of the biggest challenges in every EU Member State today is to grow and keep talent in-house.
  2. Make it real! The university curriculum needs to offer more and real challenges for the students to solve. Real-life scenarios are key for making the knowledge and skills taught relevant for their professional careers.
  3. Make it fun! Students should no longer be stuck at the bench or in front of the screen.
  4. Not only ICT-related content is required. Today universities need to include critical thinking, creativity and multi-disciplinary problem solving.
  5. Gender balance is important. Prioritize the increase in the number of female students on ICT and technology faculties and strive for 50/50 girls and boys ratio at student groups.
  6. A change in thinking about the role of university is needed. Universities should not be reluctant to really partner with private sector, and even make this link as explicit as possible. For example, the Warsaw School of Computer Science made business strategy central in the university’s mission statement. Incorporating business orientation in what the university provides is central for every graduate’s future success in their careers.
  7. Another role of university will be in the continuous reskilling of the workforce. Lifelong learning concept is present more than ever before in our lives and one can never stop learning new skills in order to keep up with the pace of change and disruption in technology. Irish institutions partner on daily basis with Skillnet Ireland that represents business and vocational education in order to offer continuous support for those that never stop to learn and practice new skills.
  8. It is clear that – due to a wealth of technology innovation – no university or academic research institution can have it and/or know it all. It is key for each education institution to identify their area of specialty and be specific about the goals to be achieved.

At DIGITALEUROPE we continue our work to better align ICT industry with what governments and education institutions strive to achieve with digital skills agenda in Europe.

Feel free to share your comments or suggestions regarding the topic of ICT industry and academia collaboration and what can we do next to foster it further.

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