Project “Enhancing capacity of universities to initiate and to participate in clusters development on innovation and sustainability principles” (UniClaD)
EU program Erasmus +, project KA2 n° 609944-EPP-1-2019-1-LT-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP
Study tour Lithuania 03.04 – 07.04 2023
The week, on 3–7 April, there was a visit at Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution from the Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan participants of the project “Enhancing Capacity Of Universities To Initiate And To Participate In Clusters Development On Innovation And Sustainability Principles” (UniClaD), carried out under the action measures of the Erasmus+ programme KA2.
One of the project parts – “Study tour” – is being implemented in the Kauno kolegija Higher Education Instituion. At this stage, the project participants visit Lithuanian-based business companies, higher education institutions and research centres, where they learn about examples of good practice in the agricultural and IT sectors. Foreign guests, who have visited different companies of the mentioned sectors, see the intricacies of work organization, the peculiarities of cooperation with each other, conducting scientific research and creating new products. Most importantly, partners learn how clusters work.
On the second day of the meeting, after getting acquainted with Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution, UniClaD participants visited “Agrokoncernas Group”, which established the headquarters of the companies in the Babtai village, located at Kaunas district, and the Lithuanian Research Centre for Agricultural and Forestry, or rather – its branch – Open Access Centre for Modelling of Fruits and Vegetables. In this area, the activities of research and prototype product development centres were familiarised with, and a discussion dedicated to the project was taken part. Foreign partners were invited to product degustation, which allowed them to learn more about the products being developed – healthy and nutritious snacks, drinks, etc. On the third day, the topic of the clusters themselves was examined in more detail. Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė, representing the Lithuanian cluster network, and Alina Laukienė, representing the company “Xplicity”, which provides digitisation services, presented the clusters that exist in Lithuania, their operating processes, related challenges, etc.
Before the last day, on Thursday, the UniClaD team went to another higher education institution that offers agricultural science studies – VMU Agricultural Academy. One private farm of Tomas Dirmeikis introduced the visitors to the current situation in the fields of agriculture and crop production. On the last day of the meeting week, partners from Europe and Asia worked in creative workshops. Project participants with the Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Technologies Dr. Irma Spūdytė were refining ideas and creating the concept for the new cluster.
There is no doubt that the activities dedicated to the meeting of partners in Lithuania will bring tangible benefits to the project participants. According to Viktorija Gudauskaitė, Head of Administration at UniClaD, the real examples of clusters operating in cooperation between business enterprises, higher education institutions and research centres, which the partners were able to observe, only prove that everything is possible – clusters can exist in their countries as well. Vytautė Giedraitienė, the Manager of Project activities, agrees with this opinion and is content with the implemented activities: “It is delightful that Lithuania is an example for many countries to follow in terms of clusters. Our country is a priority region for international cooperation of Eastern European Partnership countries, i.e., between Moldova, Azerbaijan, Ukraine”. Strategically developed foreign relations, according to the project managers, are an excellent basis for possible further activities – jointly prepared scientific projects, implemented research, etc.
It is important to recall that he goal of the UniClaD project is to strengthen the realisation of the potential of higher education institutions by creating and successfully developing agro-industry clusters based on innovations and the principles of sustainable development. UniClaD is the first project of its kind, implemented at Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution and uniting more than 20 partners from European and Asian countries to achieve common goals.