Interregional Internationalisation Initiative - 3i


Interregional Internationlisation Initiative - 3iThe Interregional Internationalisation Initiative University Network (3i Network) is a collaboration founded by Universiteit Gent, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULAK), the University of Kent and the Université de Lille.

The main goal of the network is to bring together universities, regional governments and the private sector/civil society to work on challenges common to Flanders, Kent and the Hauts-de-France.

Four thematic clusters

By virtue of their proximity, four thematic clusters were put forward for cooperation. For each of these clusters (including but not limited to) the three regions will define common challenges and collaborate on finding possible solutions to these challenges.

Pressures on coastal and marine biodiversity continue to increase. An estimated 40 per cent of the world’s population lives within 100km of the coast, putting unsustainable strain on coastal and marine resources. Human population is projected to increase to more than 9 billion people by 2050, bringing increasing pressure marine and coastal resources. At the same time, the EU Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries reported that the European Blue Economy, which includes all economic activities related to the ocean, seas and coastal areas of Europe, is thriving. The overall aim of the European Commission’s Blue Growth Strategy is to further harness the potential of Europe’s marine and coastal resources in terms of economic and societal value as well as sustainability. Yet, if the Blue Economy wants to thrive successfully, it is essential to make the transition to a sustainable sector. Different transitions have been initiated at global and local scales. The complexity is enormous and requires innovation, new knowledge and skills. Furthermore, it is important to involve stakeholders from citizens to governments. The Channel area will have to prepare for these transitions too, if it wants to play a leading role in Europe’s Blue Economy.

Marine and Maritime Challenges aims to identify specific scientific, industrial, social and political challenges. By bringing the relevant stakeholders together the cluster aims to illuminate the national and regional dynamics that differentially shape this area; to highlight actions that can support and guide the development of the blue sector with an emphasis on cross-national solutions and actions bringing research findings and innovative practices to policy makers and practitioner communities, faced with developing a sustainable blue economy.

Nutrition and Health aims to bring together the academic community – medical, biomedical and paramedical sciences, nutritional sciences, dietetics– with medical practitioners, policy makers, care and food providers, to define the major interregional challenges in health and care such as ageing, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and how care and nutrition can be improved to better deal with these.

The overall aim will be to illuminate the national and regional dynamics and highlight actions that can support and guide development of shared high-quality evidence-based interventions, with the cross fertilization of ideas at the national and international level bringing research findings and innovative practices to practitioner and producer communities. 

This cluster is aimed at addressing issues of Communities and Wellbeing through the specific focus of Diversity and Inclusion in theory, research and global practice. What are the significant political, professional and civil society initiatives that further this agenda in regards to migration, gender equality, non-discrimination along lines of origin and religious identities, but also sexuality, disability, or age? Our approach will be to tackle these subjects from various fields and policy domains, including [higher] education, employment, urban belonging, housing, and territorial/regional integration. By bringing the academic community -- in law, social and political sciences, psychology, education sciences, humanities -- together with policy makers, practitioners and civil society organisations, the overall aim will be to illuminate the national and regional dynamics that differentially shape these concerns into policy interventions; to highlight emblematic actions that can support and guide the development of shared high-quality practices, with the cross fertilisation of ideas at national and international level bringing research findings and innovative practices to policy makers and practitioner communities, faced with common challenges of global diversity, social justice, and innovation (societies in transition?)

The founding universities are convinced that cooperation encourages innovation and creativity and can result in projects which benefit the population, businesses and other organisations in their respective regions.

To maximise impact and the full innovation potential of European ecosystems, experience shows that strong territorial innovation ecosystems based on excellence are essential. 

These ecosystems are based on the so-called quadruple helix:

  • Academia and research: universities and research organisations, vocational training providers, technology transfer offices…
  • Public bodies: regional and local authorities, innovation agencies, public-supported incubators and accelerators ….
  • Private sector: businesses (SMEs, starts-up, large companies…), clusters, chambers, private incubators and accelerators …
  • Civil society: end-users, NGOs, associations, unions, etc.

3i Workshop Series - June 2021

Awaiting the formal launch of the 3i universities network, which will probably take place in Autumn 2021 once significant percentages of the population in all countries involved have been vaccinated against covid-19, the network will take a first step in collaboration by organizing a series of workshops in June 2021. Each workshop, one for every thematic cluster, aims at bringing researchers together around a particular theme, enabling a discussion on common topics and sketch a plan for future collaboration between the different institutions.

If you are interested in joining one of the workshops, please find all necessary information here below:

  • Nutrition and Health, June 11, 2021, 10h – 12h. Online registration. UGent contact: Stefaan Dehenauw, Department of Public Health and Primary Care,
  • Community and Well-Being: June 11, 2021, 14h – 16h. Online registration. UGent contact: Sara Willems, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, This workshop allows for 10 to 12 participants per university to permit an easier exchange of information. Each university does a 10 – 15 minute presentation describing their main lines of research on the topic. After that, participants will be divided into breakout groups and spend 45 minutes introducing themselves, discussing their research and possible collaborations.
  • Marine and Martime Challenges: June 15, 15h – 16h30. Online registration. Ugent contact: Sara Vandamme, Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology, This workshop will take the form of a brainstorming session where all participants will discuss the current challenges for the costal region and how cooperation between the universities can possible tackle these commonly defined challenges. Deadline for subscription:  June 8, 2021
  • Climate and Energy: June 16 , 15h – 17h. Online registration. UGent contact: Jan Desmet and Lieven Vandevelde, Department of Electromechanical Systems and Metal Engineering,,

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