The University of Rome Tor Vergata hosted the meeting ‘University Foundations and the Third Mission’ at the University Congress Centre of Villa Mondragone in Monte Porzio Catone. It was an occasion to think of and highlight the crucial role University foundations play in supporting Universities in order to achieve Third Mission activities, i.e. a ‘bridge’ among Research, Higher Education, Businesses and Civil Society.
The conference was organised by Inuit University Foundation of the University of Rome Tor Vergata in collaboration with the National Coordination of University Foundations (Coordinamento Nazionale delle Fondazioni Universitarie - CNFU). The most active Italian national foundations were present, including Politecnico di Milano Foundation and Ca’ Foscari Foundation.
Among others, the speakers included the Rector of the University of Rome Tor Vergata Giuseppe Novelli, the President of Inuit University Foundation of the University of Rome Tor Vergata and Vice Rector for the Third Mission Maurizio Talamo, and the President of the Conferences of the Italian University Foundations (CNFU) Ferdinando Di Iorio. The journalist Marzio Bartoloni of Scuola24 – Il Sole 24 ore moderated the meeting.
In the current socio-economic scenario Universities are called upon to deal with the Territory and the Business System. The Third Mission has thus assumed an increasingly crucial and strategic role. The University of Rome Tor Vergata in collaboration with Inuit University Foundation has implemented several projects to strengthen dialogue and interaction among University, business world and civil society.
‘Today, in the industrialised world the quality of work can be maintained not only by attracting excellent human capital, but also by activating virtuous circles of cooperation, growth and development triggered via the Third Mission through dialogue among all relevant actors’, stressed Tor Vergata Rector Giuseppe Novelli.
‘A dialogue which is not always easy, in which there is much to be done, though much has been and is being done’, commented the President of the Conference of the Italian University Foundations (CNFU) Ferdinando Di Iorio. ‘University Foundations embody such will displayed by Universities aiming at dialoguing with the civil society and the industrial system’, he added. An often difficult dialogue due ‘not only to bureaucratic reasons, but also to poor communication between universities and businesses’, said Maurizio Talamo. ‘Universities have their core business, but presenting it to businesses and have them buy it is not enough: SMEs must be involved too to jointly develop a product creating profit but also value for the University itself’.
Novelli recalled that the Third Mission means ‘inclusion’ and highlighted a transformation already under way within Italian Universities: ‘Together with the spin-offs, spin-in companies are created by universities able to involve SMEs. In doing so, University Foundations play a crucial role.’
The legal framework of the University Foundations was entrusted to Antonio Carratta, University of Roma Tre, and to Riccardo Cardilli, University of Rome Tor Vergata. They put forth the question of a possible renewal of the University Foundations Act dating back to 15 years ago (see Act No 388 of 2000 and Presidential Decree No 254 of May 24th, 2001 ).
The morning session ended with a speech by Gustavo Piga, Rector’s Delegate for International Relations of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, who emphasised how ‘Internationalisation’ is a key word together with ‘Job Placement’ and ‘Technology Transfer’ in Third Mission activities, which are the driving force of internationalisation.
Finally, the Rector of Ca’ Foscari University and Chairman of Ca’ Foscari Foundation Michele Bugliesi spoke about the experience of the University of Venice, underlined the socio-cultural role of the Third Mission and shared the experience of Public & Civic Engagement thanks to the project of a Science Museum to spread scientific knowledge in a creative way.