FORTE is a space of collaboration, where the needs of companies and academia meet aimed to face up regional challenges thought open collaborative agreements.
This cooperation program is one of the lines of the ‘ProfESIonalizate’ program launched by the School of Computer Science (University of Castilla-La Mancha, UCLM) located at Ciudad Real. The main objective is that the participant companies, mainly SMEs, characterize professional profiles so that the future graduates adjust better to the regional labor market. These agreements allow companies to choose a student and select optional subjects to train the desired professional. Participating companies offer students the possibility of an internship in the company to strengthen the specific training. In this context, students can also write its dissertations in line with the necessities of the company. In the standard agreement, there is a clause about hiring but under no circumstances, it is binding and therefore, the company is not obliged to do anything. It could be cataloged as an open educational bridge between research and industry. This collaborative environment brings the opportunity to regional companies and academia actors meet to generate potential clusters facing up regional challenges and contribute to the implementation of S3. Therefore, this program offers a perfect scenario to promote employability, transfer knowledge, generate innovation and encourage young entrepreneurship spirit. Hence, it is a very useful tool to encourage regional policymakers to intensify cooperative policy instruments seeking to promote collaborative research and clusterization.
It is financed by UCLM, it provides the spaces (labs, classrooms, etc.), human resources and a budgetary allocation if professional certifications are offered to the students. In addition, although, is possible not to offer any type of monetary compensation to the student, some companies pay a grant
Evidence of success
Since its creation, the program has had an exponential amount of beneficiaries which impacts directly in the number of ICT projects elaborate year by year. There are some indicators to measure the exceptional acceptance of this program:
2014/15 – 16 students, 7 companies, 7 projects.
2015/16 – 23 students, 8 companies, 21 projects.
2016/17 – 24 students, 11 companies, 41 projects.
2017/18 – 49 students, 14 companies, 59 projects.
2018/19 – 46 students, 17 companies, 73 projects.
• To align the SMEs requirements with the study plans of the subjects related to the demanded competencies.
• To make see the teachers that the university was not selling itself to commercial, private interests.
• The availability of resources, mainly economic.
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice is a clear example of how acting at a very local context, is possible to enhance the cooperation between academia and the industry to improve sustainable regional growth. With small steps at the beginning, and a list of specific actions (meetings, development a flexible collaboration framework, etc.) it was possible to break the wall between these important actors in the regional R&D&I framework. Now, after four years, it is seen a snowball effect and both, companies and students do not have to be convinced of the benefits of being enrolled in this experience. Furthermore, this initiative has contributed to attracting potential companies and investment to Ciudad Real, becoming this industry more competitive, collaborative and the main one in the city. On the other hand, talent has been retained in the city, fighting against the attractiveness of huge industrial and economic poles near the region such as Madrid or Valencia.