Diverse and complementary are the expertise and competencies of the IDEAL project consortium. In order to maintain coherence along the diversity, several partners were chosen based on their prior collaboration on many projects including prior Tempus projects. Furthermore, all partners, European and Lebanese bring knowledge and expertise on Tempus management, quality control and dissemination techniques.

As the grant-holder and coordinator, the American University of Beirut (AUB) has a long history of expertise in grant and contract administration. AUB has a long track record of successful participation in EU projects (TEMPUS, ENPI, FP 6 and 7) and the management of substantial grants from foundations, governmental and non-governmental organizations,  industry and other philanthropic entities. In addition, as evident in the enclosed financial statements, AUB has sufficient and stable financial resources. AUB as the lead partner on this project serves multiple functions. First, as the oldest university in Lebanon, it has developed capabilities in regard to research administration that make it a leader in higher education in Lebanon. Annually, it secures around 10 million USD in funding that it sources from the work of its Office of Grants and Contracts. This shows that AUB has expertise in grant administration and its experience will inform a strong management of the project. Additionally, AUB will be able to assist European partners in transferring knowledge to other Lebanese HEIs by serving as a local model of best practice in research administration. Second, AUB is currently looking to grow its capacity in technology transfer and commercialization. It will benefit on the project from partnering with European university partners that have capabilities in this regard.

The focus of the project is to improve the national infrastructure of Lebanese higher education institutions to support research, development and innovation and to transfer innovation to industry. The IDEAL partnership was “ideally” designed to meet these objectives.  First, critical support is being given to the consortium via the participation of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, as well as the National Council for Scientific Research. Second, the Lebanese HEIs that were selected based on their geography, size, and high-impact nature. They accurately represent the Lebanese higher education system. Building capacity at these specific HEIs will have a positive multiplier effect for the whole country, because they serve over two-thirds of the higher education market. Of greatest importance is the Lebanese University (LU). Home to over 70,000 Lebanese students and almost 3,000 staff, it is the only public institution of higher learning in Lebanon. It represents 50% of the total student population within higher education in Lebanon. Succeeding to have UL on the consortium ensures that the national scope of the project will be respected and that results will be superiorly disseminated.

The European partners were carefully selected to assist in building capacity to support research at Lebanese HEIs. All EU partners have competencies in research support, technology transfer, innovation management, and relationships with enterprise.  The Lebanese HEIs will benefit from the training that the EU partners will provide, as well as from the time they will be able to spend in EU partners research offices doing internships to learn best-practices. The project focused on acquiring more Lebanese partners, including governmental entities and enterprises in addition to HEIs, than EU partners because of the importance of the priority of the national structural measure. To ensure that sufficient funds could be allocated to the Lebanese context for accomplishing the projects objectives, the EU partners carefully selected for their expertise, but kept to a minimum to safeguard the budget.

In addition to building capacity for research support, the project is designed to help facilitate the transfer of innovative research into enterprise. In this regard, there are two Lebanese partners on the consortium selected to serve a major role in this function. INFOPRO is the largest and most powerful source of market intelligence in Lebanon. Their information and relationships with Lebanese industry will be a critical resource for the project, as it seeks to create partnerships with enterprise. INFOPRO will be responsible for generating a database of researchers and potential industry partners and for hosting networking events for HEIs and industry. The Lebanese Industrial Research Achievement Program (LIRA) is a powerful national partner for helping to create enterprise partnerships. LIRA’s mission is “Building effective cooperation between industry, academia, and research centers to address the research and development needs of the Lebanese industry, empower the industrial sector with innovations leading to the promotion of competitiveness and productivity, and achieving a transition from a welfare economy to a knowledge-based economy.” LIRA and INFOPRO will be responsible for identifying and creating the database of industries in Lebanon, and organizing networking events to link researchers and industrialist and businesses together, the events will feature the work of researchers and a show case for industries and businesses.