Alliances for Innovation are an Erasmus+ project format. The format encourages strategic cooperation among higher education and vocational education and training actors within the broader socio-economic environment. The focus is on enterprises and research. Necessary skills, knowledge and abilities are identified and developed with regard to labour market trends and innovation and sustainability in general and vocational education.

What are the aims of Alliances for Innovation?

Alliances for Innovation aim to promote the development of new skills and to minimise skill mismatches. Furthermore, they aim to support the development of a sense of initiative and entrepreneurial attitude and mindset as well as digital skills. The focus will be on establishing new processes for the recognition of skills and new approaches to strengthening social, linguistic and cultural competencies.

Alliances for Innovation address challenges such as environmental sustainability, the digital transformation, employment, and the sustainability and growth of the economy and integrate them into the development of attractive educational and training programmes.

Alliances for Innovation will be supported via two lines of funding (Lot 1 and Lot 2) (Erasmus+ Programme Guide . Lot 1 includes Alliances for Education. Lot 2 is concerned with sectoral cooperation:

Lot 1: Alliances for Education and Enterprises (formerly Knowledge Alliances)

Alliances for Education and Enterprises are transnational, structured and results-driven projects, in which institutions from the fields of education, industry and the public sector work together to achieve common goals. Alliances for Education and Enterprises operate within one or several different educational and economic sectors and establish reliable and sustainable national and transnational relationships. For example, they test joint training programmes, establish the profiles for emerging professions or develop solutions for urgent social needs that are not currently addressed by the market.

Who can apply?

Every Alliance for Education and Enterprises must include at least one vocational education organisation and one higher education organisation. Furthermore, other actors such as organisations for general and vocational training and youth as well as agencies for economic development, enterprises, research institutions and public sector stakeholders can be involved. Alliances for Education and Enterprises must include at least 8 full partners from at least 4 Erasmus+ Programme countries. Furthermore, the partnership must include at least 3 labour market actors (enterprises or companies, trade unions or trade associations) and at least 3 educational institutions (vocational and/or higher education) as full partners.

Swiss institutions cannot coordinate projects, but they can be involved as full or associated partners.

What is the duration of a project?

An Alliance for Innovation has a duration of 2 or 3 years.

What are the differences compared to the previous format of Knowledge Alliances?

Alliances for Innovation focus on the challenges specified above. For the actors involved, a closer cooperation between higher education and vocational training is emphasised. There are more partner institutions and organisations involved. Furthermore, the programme now requires at least 3 educational institutions to act as partners (previously it was at least 1 university and one vocational education institution) as well as 3 labour market actors.

Lot 2: Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills (implementing the “Blueprint”)

Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills seek to establish new cooperation between relevant stakeholders and to pursue strategic approaches toward finding  common solutions and incentives for the development of skills in specific economic sectors.

Alliances are implemented in 14 industrial ecosystems, which were identified in the New Industrial Strategy for Europe 2020:

Tourism, Mobility-Transport-Automobile, Aerospace & Defence, Construction, Agriculture & food industry, Low-carbon energy Intensive Industries, Textile, Creative & Cultural Industries, Digital, Renewable Energy, Electronics, Retail, Proximity & Social Economy, Health

On the basis of identified skills needed for the relevant occupational profiles, these alliances support the design and provision of national and transnational education and training content as well as teaching and training methods, including for emerging occupations.

  • Establishment of long-term, sustainable cooperation between key actors from industry, social partnerships, education, training and the public sector to develop qualifications.
  • Establishment of cooperation between large enterprises and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) along the value chain within a specific industrial ecosystem.

Who can apply?

Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills must involve at least 8 programme countries and at least 12 full partners. The partnership must include at least 5 labour market actors (enterprises, representative organisations such as chambers, trade unions or trade associations) and at least 5 education and training providers as full partners. At least 1 higher education institution and 1 vocational education provider should be involved as full partners.

Swiss institutions cannot coordinate projects, but they can be involved as full or associated partners.

What is the duration of a project?

The duration of Alliances for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills is 4 years.

What are the differences compared to the previous format Sector Skills Alliances?

The line of funding is newly based on the 14 industrial ecosystems that were defined in the New Industrial Strategy for Europe in 2020. Only one project can be funded per industrial ecosystem. The focus is on the aim of closing skills gaps among professionals on the labour market in order to promote growth, competition and innovation. The involvement of universities is as crucial as the involvement of institutions for vocational education and training. The number of participating institutions and countries is higher. Furthermore, 5 labour market actors and 5 institutions from the education and training sector must be involved, among which there has to be at least one university and one vocational education institution. The funding budget has been increased and the project duration has been prolonged.

How are Swiss institutions supported financially (Lot 1 & 2)?

Swiss institutions that are involved as full partners are directly financed via the Erasmus+ Programme. Swiss institutions that are involved in an Alliance for Innovation as associated partners can apply to Movetia for funds from the Swiss Programme for Erasmus +. In both cases the added value the involvement of the Swiss institutions brings to the project has to be stated in the EU application.