The University’s strategic plan states that “the University of Trento recognizes knowledge transfer as one of its fundamental missions, alongside research and education”. This mission, which has been among our objectives for some time, is now recognized as fundamental for all universities. The tools and the policies to encourage knowledge transfer are numerous, and deal with different aspects of the process.
In terms of teaching, a fundamental first step is to bring the curriculum closer and closer to the needs of society. This happens through continual dialogue with business, industry and organizations, through systematic consultation. In teaching activities that are particularly professionally oriented it is certainly useful to involve experts from the professions, from companies and from public agencies. Another strategy is to strengthen and expand in-service training initiatives, in synergy with professional organizations, business and industry, creating an on-going link between the professions and the university.
A key example in this regard is the link with the school system, where we are strengthening our collaboration on teacher training and development. Some of the courses we offer in this area are the TFA, a teacher qualification course; the PAS, which completes the qualifications of partially qualified teachers; the SpS course in providing educational support to students with disabilities; and a course in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), for teachers to acquire the necessary competencies to teach a non-language subject in a foreign language.
In research, the priority is to exploit the results of scientific and technological research, though working closely with industry. The University aims to support applied research that has the goal of improving competitiveness in manufacturing, and to foster startups aimed at entrepreneurial exploitation of scientific research. Through its technology transfer office, the University of Trento helps researchers to maximize the opportunities for startup creation and to minimize the obstacles to their development. An important aspect of this is training in entrepreneurship, particularly for doctoral students, who, like research staff, have a range of services available to them if they want to test their ideas in the marketplace. These services include assistance in filing applications for patents on research results.
Knowledge transfer is an objective that is both important and, at the same time, not easy. It presupposes a high standard of research and teaching, in order to create a solid foundation for transferring to society the innovation, creativity and knowledge that develop within the university. But the society that surrounds us, and which the university is a part of, is increasingly asking us to meet this challenge.