Intersectoral Staff Mobility

Intersectoral Staff Mobility

Inter-sectorial (industry-RTO-academia) mobility of staff is known to be an enabler for Open Innovation/Science and is implemented already in various European, national and regional (co-funded) programmes. However, the design and implementation can still be improved, lowering barriers and removing overhead bottlenecks, to allow beneficiaries to fully leverage on the inherent potential of bringing cooperating people together in a different context.


To boost inter sectorial mobility (ISM) of researchers as key enabler for open innovation by fully exploiting on its potential.

  • Analysing existing staff mobility programmes (EU/national/regional)
  • Collecting past experiences from all parties involved (including the staff)
  • Deriving and testing good practices



Surveys: What needs are being addressed? What is the job to be done?

  • Cross sectors: Pharmaceutical, Mechanical Engineering, Material science, Bio-tech,
  • Multiple actors: Academic supervisors, industrial supervisors, inter-sectoral researchers, Funding agency representatives, Support functions
  • Multiple programmes: Regional, National, European

Best practices compiled:

  • Bottlenecks and proposed solutions: Identification of bottlenecks in different phases of current mobility programmes along with proposed solutions for these bottlenecks.
  • Mobility facilitators: Collection of enabling factors for setting up and running intersectoral mobility programmes.
  • KPI investigation: Investigation of KPIs to measure the amount and success of collaboration within programmes with intersectoral mobility

Guidelines for stakeholders (individuals, organisations and governments):

  • How to initiate, facilitate and reward staff mobility
  • How to deal with barriers and overhead bottlenecks
  • How to profit from staff mobility as individual and organisation
  • How to further improve on existing staff mobility programmes

The different stakeholders participate to ISM with different agendas. Academic partners try to advance the state-of-the-art ensuring industrial relevance at the forefront of academic excellence. The industry partner is searching to boost the state-of-the-use with innovative technologies, continuously innovating products and services and training researchers or students focused on their activities. Governments invest in innovative researchers of the future with a complete skill set to ensure the supply of highly-skilled professionals needed in the competitive labour markets of the “knowledge economy”. Lastly, the mobile researcher themselves are looking for combination of the critical mind-set of universities combined with a commercial mind-set of industry and gain company experience to speed up their learning curves.

Key findings

Mobility is a key enabler for open innovation and

  • can conflict with traditional (IP focused) innovation approaches and administrative procedures;
  • can be boosted by out of the box thinking and novel approaches with clear IP and administrative agreements;
  • is at the end driven by the people and their attitude (individual level connections);
  • but is heavily facilitated by the existence of agreements between organisation (institutional connections)
  • governmental funding schemes act as a catalyst.

This strong dependency on existence of both personal and organisation links, explains the importance of adapting to local habits and explains the wide variation and scatteredness of ISM schemes

Key recommendations

  • Go for gradual approaches to build a joint innovation DNA and ecosystem. Start small and build trust with low risk, short term research, such as student internships or master theses and gradually built towards a higher risk long term collaborations. Combine connections on individual level and build bridges on institutional level (alliances, base funding, …).
  • Reduce risk for single projects with low level entry fees for the start of research, but gradually increasing fees when the research becomes more tangible.
  • Ease administrative loads by setting up focused framework agreements for groups of companies and make templates available as starting point for discussions on administration issues.
  • Educate researchers with respect to IP and collaboration such they know what they can share.
  • Learn on the go and compile best practices (welcome procedures, collaboration scripts, IP templates) in a recipe book that can be used as guide towards further collaborations.