UCCrowd “Universities-Companies Crowdsourcing”
Period: 2013 – 2015. Programme: Lifelong Learning Programme – Erasmus Multilateral Project
Crowdsourcing is a “process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers” (Wikipedia). “Challenge Academy” applies the concept of crowdsourcing by offering an online platform for practicing skills and knowledge of the collective students’ population to solve business-related challenges. The companies, research centres and universities, share their problems with the academia and therefore professors and students from all Europe can gather innovative solutions for them. Currently in the platform more than 2000 users are registered among companies, universities, academics and students.
The Challenge Academy offers to companies and research centres the chance to select new resources and discover young talent. Academics can benefit from real world cases focusing on a student-centred educational approach using the problem solving. Students, not only compete to gain the challenge award but they have the chance to be in contacts with several companies at European level.
During the first stage of the project, the efforts was focused on asking the academics and business involved about their needs and expectations regarding the open innovation platform, and to create a European business case.
The second stage was the technological development, based on the reports supplied by the previous stage. This activity has been closely monitored by the partners who has tested and evaluated the platform every step of the way, in order to monitor all the work, overcome all obstacles, and prevent possible errors.
The third stage consisted of the implementation and use of the platform by the professors in their classes, and companies used it to put challenges. This process involved professors, students and companies and was one of the most important phases of the project.
The fourth stage has been used to evaluate the pilot study, to adjust and implement the professor’s training. During the 2nd semester, other HEI’s and companies has been invited to join the platform and prepare the sustainability plan.
Methodology will be based on “Project Management life cycle”. As a result, four phases have been developed:
- Start up: share best practices; develop the communication tools between partnerships; develop a European business case study in the field of energy and innovation (already done during the application development).
- Planning: develop a road map for the project discussion of implementation of: quality plan, project plan, communication plan and understanding between partners.
- Execution: to develop strategies to control costs, deliveries, quality, risks and issues.
- Closure: to hand over deliverables to other stakeholders and prepare a plan to maintain the network after the lifetime of the project.
The main results achieved have been:
- To transfer the crowdsourcing model into the academic environment;
- To promote cooperation between companies/ HEI’s;
- To contribute to European economic growth through more well trained human resources;
- To develop a system of incentives that promote the involvement of academics within the business environment;
- To promote the use of technologies in classes;
- To promote the mobility between European partners, since a group from one country could have the best solution for a problem from one company in another country;
- To contribute to the discussion of better solutions in the energy field;
- To create a network of companies and HEI’s in the field of energy;
- To promote curricula development fostered by companies involved in the consortium;
- To run a pilot study, that will join together students, companies and professors, from various countries;
- To display teacher training to use the platform as a pedagogical tool.