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Third Mission

WU defines the Third Mission as having a comprehensive role in the broader society. At STaR & RCE Vienna, we do this by partnering in various innovation networks, (co)producing research-based sustainability solutions, and serving as an anchor in the community.

Some of our Third Mission projects are also presented in STaR SDG-Video series. Take a look!

Our projects

Sustainability Challenge – Europe’s biggest inter-university course on service learning


Connecting university students, established enterprises and social businesses to reach the SDGs.

The Sustainability Challenge is a unique, innovative and cross-disciplinary university course based on Education for Sustainable Development. It is coordinated by RCE Vienna and held together by seven Austrian universities on a yearly basis. The Sustainability Challenge is dedicated to the objectives of sustainable development, with particular emphasis on the SDGs. Each year, 60 - 80 students from all fields are selected through a detailed application process. The sustainability challenge offers two participation tracks: service learning and start-up. Students may either work in close collaboration with enterprises, ministries or NGOs to tackle real-life sustainability issues (service learning track), or develop their own sustainable business idea (start-up track).

Project partners: Austrian Development Agency, Vienna University of Economics and Business, TU Wien, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, University of Vienna, University of Applied Arts Vienna, University of Graz, Mozarteum University Salzburg, numerous companies, ministries and NGOs acting as service learning partners

Interested to learn more about the Sustainability Challenge?

Website: https://www.sustainabilitychallenge.at


Anna-Maria Krulis

Anna-Maria Krulis

Madeleine Pühringer

Madeleine Pühringer

The Urban Shift


(Funded by the European Union)

The Urban Shift is designed to provide lasting impact and urban breeding grounds for new innovative and scalable climate mitigation solutions.The Urban Shift is a project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

The Urban Shift is creating a Living Ecosystem where three Higher Education Institutions, a Vocational Education Institution and four business partners implement two batches of Living Labs for 80 learners of different backgrounds (urban design, environmental engineering, media and business). With the support of the trainers, the learners of two batches create solutions for pressing urban challenges by forming 10 transdisciplinary startup teams and closely working with a network of Urban Experts

Project Partners: WU, IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), HdM (Stuttgard Media University), WIFI/WKO (Austrian Champer of Commerce), Terra Institute, Multicriteria, Pretty Ugly Duckling, Green Innovation Group.

Interested to learn more about Urban shift?

Website: urbanshift.eu


Marie-Sophie Attems

Marie-Sophie Attems

Adam Greene

Adam Greene

Green leadership program: unmasking true sustainable leadership – combating greenwashing (Green LEAP)


(Funded by the European Union)

The Green Leadership Program (GREEN LEAP) seeks to meet the demand for sustainability driven by the European Green Deal and overcome the shortage of professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills in the complex field through training aspiring leaders in SMEs, startups, and European training institutions. The project takes a multidisciplinary, holistic approach, encompassing both technical green and essential soft skills like teamwork and leadership. This ensures effective collaboration and decision-making in the sustainability sphere. The project is motivated by the pressing need to address environmental challenges, such as climate change and resource depletion, and the transition of industry to sustainable practices. Thus, the aim is to bridge the growing workforce gap and provide training on green & rainbow washing, sustainability communication, SDG impact, collaborative action and teamwork, and resilience and complexity.  

GREEN LEAP is a project developed by Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien - WU (Austria), and Terra Institute - TERRA (Italy), and is co-funded by the ERASMUS+ Key Action 2 Small-scale Partnerships in adult education 2023 programme of the European Union.


Marie-Sophie Attems

Marie-Sophie Attems

Adam Greene

Adam Greene

Past projects

Communities for Science (C4S)

(Funded by Horizon 2020)

Communities for Sciences (C4S) is a H2020 project, which started in September 2020. C4S has been implemented in eight European cities (Milan - Italy, Brussels - Belgium, Manresa - Spain, Vienna -Austria, Budapest - Hungary, Sofia - Bulgaria, Lund – Sweden and Berlin - Germany). A local science education HUB led by the local partners of the Consortium will coordinate the activities that will be implemented in each city. Each HUB will focus on a specific vulnerable community (immigrants, Roma community and disabled citizens) working with and for children and youth from 0-16 years old and their families. C4S will study the relations between science and society by focusing upon vulnerable communities because they often are not visible as active social agents.

This will be done through science education activities, through formal and non-formal education institutions, from an inclusive standpoint, to provide them with better science awareness and capacities and to make them progressively aware of exclusionary practices that at times may occur in science. Special emphasis will be put on engaging them in an intersectional approach to fight against the gender discrimination suffered by women and girls at multiple levels. In addition to this, each HUB will engage with policy-makers, educators and institution representatives to promote their role in supporting and promoting an inclusive science education approach and to consolidate such inclusive practices on more solid grounds.

Project partners: University of Vic- Central University of Catalonia (Project Lead) (Spain), Board of education for Vienna (Austria), IB Hochschule Berlin (Germany), Galileo Progetti (Italy), Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca (UNIMIB) (Italy), Comune di Sesto San Giovanni (Italy), Erasmus Hogeschool (Belgium), New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria), Lund University (Sweden)

Interested to learn more about C4S?

website: http://www.communities-for-sciences.eu/

UNcode Hackathon: AI Creativity for UNIDO Goals


(Funded by UNIDO)

The overall aim of the UNcode Hackathon is to develop, design and implement new AI-based classification systems to enhance UNIDO’s strategic project programming. The implementation of AI enables the processing of large amounts of data and streamlines data analysis, leading to diverse outcomes and strategic steps. The question arises: How can AI improve UNIDO's data-driven strategic programming? The uptake of novel technologies to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) has been unprecedented in recent years. To streamline and enhance the impact of UNIDO in achieving SDGs across diverse thematic and focus areas, new technologies should be implemented within its core processes to aid data-driven decision making, leading to better strategic choices of intervention programmes. A key technology in this endeavor is artificial intelligence (AI). The use of AI tools (based on different types of AI such as large language models (LLM) demands creative and fresh thinking to update UNIDO's existing strategic processes. The inherent complexity of these processes often presents adaptation challenges that are difficult to overcome without external input. To address this, a specialized hackathon, engaging a diverse array of student groups from WU, will provide the necessary support to UNIDO in navigating and overcoming these adaptation challenges.

Website: https://www.unido.org/uncode-hackathon-ai-creativity-unido-goals


Anita Neumannova

Anita Neumannova

Marie-Sophie Attems

Marie-Sophie Attems

Green Skills for Cities


(co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union)

Green Skills for Cities (G4C) establishes a transdisciplinary education platform targeted at the development of skills in the field of nature-based solutions (NBS) to be implemented in the cities. The aim is to develop curricula targeted at working in the public sector by bringing together trainers and learners from the fields of botany, technology, design and economy. Green Skills for Cities (G4C) is a project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, developed by WU, IAAC, UNIGE and ALDA.

The goals of the project are to develop a curricula for professionals targeted at NBS implementation, thus increasing a city's sustainability, reinforce networks in the field of urban sustainable development, establishing collaborations between HEIs, RTOs and municipalities, thereby facilitating the introduction of the learners into the labour market, Increase the quality and relevance of higher education, focusing on the transdisciplinary dimension to better respond to the labour markets needs, and produce results that are reusable, transferable, and up-scalable.

Project Partners: WU, UNIGE (Universitá di Genova), IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), ALDA (European Association for Local Democracy)

Interested to learn more about Green Skills for Cities?

Website: https://greenskills4cities.eu/

BUILD - Building Urban Intelligent Living Design Solutions


(Funded by Erasmus plus Knowledge Alliances)

BUILD solutions aims to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and subsequent market uptake of intelligent living, biotech and biomimicry solutions to help green cities.

To achieve this objective BUILD Solutions will provide a unique and innovative platform for HEIs and SMEs interaction offering many events that will take place in Barcelona, Vienna, Nancy and Copenhagen. All the events programmed will establish interdisciplinary links between architecture, bio-tech and business knowledge and will promote a rich discussion through which to generate insights and visions, ideas and proposals that help to envisage and prototype nature/metabolic-based solutions for urban re-naturalization and resilience.

Project partners: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Université de Lorraine, Vienna University of Economics and Business, ERSILIA Foundation, Econick, Plant-e, City Facilitators, Green Tech Challenge.

Interested to learn more about BUILD?

Website: https://www.build-solutions.org/

INSITU – Intergenerational Social Innovation Support Scheme

in situ

(Funded by INTERREG Central Europe)

In SITU brings together the fields of Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation in order to tackle some of today’s urgent social challenges. The project aims to change the narrative of what it means to be a “social entrepreneur” and who gets to be one, by offering an opportunity for socioeconomically disadvantaged youth and long-term-unemployed adults – groups that are all too often perceived as passive receivers of social innovations – to become solution co-creators. Another key aim is to increase the labor market access for these untraditional groups of Social Innovators.
Our Mission is to foster positive societal impact and make Social Entrepreneurship more inclusive by creating spaces of inspiration and empowerment where every citizen – disregarding their background – is seen as a co-creator, rather than target, of social innovation.
The IN SITU team seeks to achieve this through a series of training and workshops, offered free of cost, in which participants will get a chance to discover the potential of their ideas, expand their creative social thinking as well as business-planning skills, and develop their own social projects. This is a case study on transformative learning environments in the context of education for sustainable development (ESD).
Project partners: Board of Education for Vienna, European Office (Austria), Region of Veneto - Department of Labour & ENAIP VENETO SOCIAL ENTERPRISE (Italy), Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation & Stuttgart Media University (Germany), City of Rijeka & STEP RI Science and Technology Park of the University of Rijeka Ltd. (Croatia), Regional Authorities of Ślaskie Voivodeship  & The University of Dąbrowa Górnicza (Poland), Foundation for Improvement of Employment Possibilities PRIZMA & OZARA d.o.o. Service and Disability Company (Slowenia)

Interested to learn more about IN SITU?

Website: http://www.insituproject.eu/


(Funded by the WU Jubiläumsfond der Stadt Wien)

SDGs Map will perform a social network analysis on the SDG-oriented startups and their ecosystem in Vienna. The network data will be visualized and used to explore and understand the dynamics of the ecosystem in order to provide inputs for tailored support and policies.

The overall aim of the project is to stimulate the development and growth of an innovative and successful green business ecosystem in Vienna. Thus enhancing the potential of the city to tackle challenges connected to societal challenges and sustainable socio-economic development. As innovative, new and sustainable business models like those based i.e. on circular economy will become even more important in the future, the project will contribute to the overall competitiveness of the city - and help to establish Vienna as a frontrunner in the field of green and social businesses & start-ups and use the SDGs as important driver for innovation and business.

Building on existing knowhow of the RCE Vienna the project also has the aim to consolidate and enhance the already established knowledge base and provide a valuable resource for future projects focusing on the SDG-oriented Startup ecosystem in Vienna.

Interested to learn more about SDGs Maps click on the link below.


SDGs Labs – Making the SDGs our business

SDGs Labs

(Funded by Erasmus plus Knowledge Alliances)

SDGs Labs aims to build a culture of collaboration and knowledge exchange between different stakeholders involved in agribusiness and food production with the goal of holistic incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into modern business practices of the sector.

SDGs Labs is translating the abstract SDGs into practical business solutions for actors all along the supply chain in the agribusiness and food production sector including HEIs, start-ups and established companies. The project is building on existing experience and gathered expertise throughout the project flow to develop innovative means and methods dedicated to co-learning environments for future collaborations. Furthermore, we will produce an interactive learning tool “Making the SDGs your business” for European start-up academies and incubators as well as a “SDGs business pioneers facilitation workshop” series for existing companies aiming at incorporating the SDGs holistically into their business practice.

Project partners: Vienna University for Economics and Business (Austria), University of Vechta (Germany), Universidade de Trás-o-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal), Terra Institute (Italy), ISEKI-Food Association (Austria), Wiesenhof (Germany), CEIFAcoop (Portugal), and Regia-Douro Park (Portugal).

Interested to learn more about SDGs Labs?

Website: sdgs-labs.eu