The collaboration between Audi Hungaria Zrt. and Széchenyi István University (SZE) is like no other. A conducive regional innovation policy, coupled with a strong strategic, structural and operational linkage sets it apart from most other similar endeavors in Europe and beyond.
This win-win cooperation between Audi Hungaria and SZE formally started in 1999. The university aimed to raise its overall standing and contribution by providing its students a practice-oriented learning environment and giving its scholars the opportunity to link their research outcome with the actual problems of the industry and the community at large. Audi Hungaria on the other hand planned to tap in to the university’s knowledge base so as to stay ahead of the game in the increasingly competitive Auto-industry. Moreover, Audi Hungaria wanted to be active in cultivating practice-oriented students with cutting-edge automotive technology knowledge in order to satisfy the human resource need of its ever-expanding business.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned individual benefits, their collaboration is also built on the shared vision of creating a dynamic regional eco-system. Under the auspices of the regional government and with the motto “the future is being built in Győr”, both institutions are striving to create a competitive and attractive Győr. A case in point is their key participation in what the local government of Győr calls “Győr Automotive career path model collaboration” which aims to proactively tackle the brain-drain challenge of the city.
The collaboration between Audi Hungaria and SZE is multifaceted. In the educational front, a wide range of joint programs ranging from short-term trainings to Bachelor’s and Master’s level courses are offered. The jointly founded Department for Internal Combustion Engines and later on Audi Hungaria Faculty for Automotive Engineering play an instrumental role in the delivery of the courses. An excellent example of this is a dual-study program in vehicle engineering, where students get a formal employment contract with Audi Hungaria and get paid for their contribution while at the same time attending their education at the jointly opened faculty. This strong partnership finds a ground in the research front as well. Apart from supporting the research work of Bachelor’s and Master’s level students at the faculty, there is a contract-based research between the two organisations where researchers have the chance to use the facilities of both institutions. The research collaboration also involves short-term academic staff placement. What is more, Audi Hungaria provides financial support for up to 5 PhD students every year.
It is essential to highlight how the well-designed structure of the university has contributed to the effectiveness of the partnership. In that, SZE has setup a non-profit organization named “Universitas” which is tasked with streamlining the knowledge and technology transfer of the university. Additionally, the center of excellence and the knowledge management center found in the university can be considered as boundary spanning units in their own right. Despite the success of the current strategic and structural arrangement SZE is aiming higher to further improve its regional impact, through the establishment of a new ‘higher education and collaboration center”.
Although young, there is a lot of lesson other regions could draw from what is shaping to be one of the finest collaboration in Central-Europe. The depth and breadth of the partnership and the institutional framework enabling the collaboration are especially important in making the partnership transferable to other regions.
This blog is based on a case study originally written by Zsuzsa Jávorka (Technopolis Group UK).
To learn more about the collaboration between Audi Hungaria Zrt. and Széchenyi István University, please access the original case study here.