DEVELOPING AND ASSESSING INNOVATION COMPETENCES IN UNIVERSITY-COMPANY CO-OPERATION
Competencies are one aspect of human capital, incorporating knowledge, skills and personal characteristics. Competencies can only be inferred from observable behaviours that act as indicators of the underlying characteristics (Hayton and Kelley, 2006). In other words they are latent constructs, not measured directly (Marin-Garcia et al, 2013). Innovation competences are learning outcomes that refer to knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for innovation activities to be successful. The innovation competences drawn up at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) follow the European Qualifications Framework and comprise three levels: individual, interpersonal and networking innovation competences. In this paper we present the idea and aims of innovation competences and discuss how these competences origin from expectations and development needs in companies and other working life organizations.
A consortium of European universities have worked together for several years in order to develop a tool for innovation competence assessment, and as a result provided a validated instrument to assess the innovation competence of students. The starting point for this work was that universities did not have proper tools to measure the development of the students’ innovation competencies during their studies. There was no sufficient data on which teaching and learning methods are effective, i.e. able to develop innovation competences.
Also companies are lacking tools and knowledge to assess these competencies in various settings; in recruitment processes and internal development activities. In university-company co-operation, the innovation competence assessment tool provided the universities can be developed to answer to company needs and expectations. In this paper we present also the EU financed FINCODA project with a significant number of universities and innovation-intensive companies from 5 countries, aiming towards active university-enterprise cooperation by producing a new set of resources for companies who expect their current and future employees to have innovation competencies that cannot be assessed with traditional tools. The new tools for assessing innovation competencies – key outputs of this project - are going to be utilized by companies in recruitment processes and development processes of their personnel. The competence assessment tool is needed; the evaluation of personnel development processes and training periods is demanding and their productivity is difficult to estimate in companies. The project is in progress, and the paper will present the findings and results achieved this far.
European-wide challenges demand multinational solutions. Investments to innovation competencies development gain positive impacts to the competitiveness of European companies. Joint European processes in assessment of learning outcomes are also one key aspect in the creation of a well-functioning European Higher Education Area.