Challenger Course 3

Find Collaborators and Build Your Network

About this course

Welcome to the transformative journey of becoming a role model and future teacher in the Makerspace!

This is Course 3 of Module 1 in a series of 9 courses, carefully curated for role models/teachers within the scope of the EU-funded project Challenger. All courses in this program are designed and developed by professionals from Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers.

This module is designed to provide you with the essential knowledge and skills to navigate the dynamic landscape of applied research in Vocational Education and Training (VET). By engaging in this comprehensive exploration, you will be equipped to foster innovation and entrepreneurial mindsets among your students.

Module outline:

  • Module 1:          Learning the basics
  • Module 2:          Working on hands-on projects for business
  • Module 3:          Creating your own innovations

By the end of these modules, you will have acquired valuable insights and skills and be prepared to guide and inspire future innovators in the makerspace. Let’s embark on this journey towards a future of innovation, sustainability, and transformative change together!

This course is offered for free. Upon registration and passing the multiple-choice tests at the end of each course, you will receive a confirmation of participation in the form of a digital badge. After completing all courses in the module, you will receive an innovation certificate proving your experience and gained know-how.

Get ready to engage in an enriching educational experience that will expand your horizons and empower you to become a competent and impactful role model in the makerspace. Let’s embark on this journey together towards a future of innovation, sustainability, and transformative change.

How to find collaborating partners and networking


Using stakeholders in education instead of only working with fictional cases has become increasingly common. You have probably already encountered this way of working before in some form. In the Makerspace community, these stakeholders will play a main character instead of a byrole, which is more common. But how do we make this possible?

Firstly, we need to make it concrete what the value brought is for the stakeholders. Depending on the stakeholder, this will differ. Therefore, it is needed to map out who the stakeholders are – local businesses, municipality, local community… A good way to start is by mapping out who we already have in our contact net! Start by looking at which external contacts you already have established. Get help from colleagues and leadership representatives – in some cases, the person taking this course might have personal contacts who could be useful in this context as well.

A lot of this work will already have been prepared in the business model for your Makerspace, but due to the fast-paced society that we live in we need to constantly develop the partners that we are involving. Some partners may have a purpose that is more static, as for other purposes the partners needed may change or expand more frequently.

To be able to request your contacts to participate, you need to make sure that you know what it is you are asking for, more precisely. This is something that will not be the same in every case and it is important to clarify this to yourself and your team internally before going out with the request externally. To begin with you might not need multiple stakeholders that can contribute with the same thing. So – what is it that the stakeholders can contribute with? What should the request be for? This will differ from Makerspace to Makerspace, but these are some examples of what the stakeholders could (and should) be used for:

  • Mentors for the learners
  • Equipment – lend out equipment that is not available within the own organisation to large our smaller groups of students
  • Education – e.g. educating learners in machines that they have not used before
  • Work swaps – role models get to boost their knowledge and employees get to meet students and educate them
  • Problem areas for the learners to find an innovative solution to
    Advisors for the learners within certain areas that the role models/own organization lack competence within

Realistically, it would be hard to find one business/organization that would be able contribute with all the mentioned aspects. When you have mapped out your resources you may see that you lack some of these competences or opportunities within the already existing network. In some cases, you would be able to find the lacking parts within the same organization that you are already in contact with, but in another department. In some cases, this might not even be possible. Then it could be a good idea to look further – what opportunities can be found in the region? The region close by? Could some partners be found digitally?

Since the pandemic, our opportunities and experience within working with each other digitally has increased significantly! Depending on whether your Makerspace is digital, physical or a hybrid this opportunity will be used in a varied amount. But it should be considered as a possibility in each of the versions of Makerspaces and is something that could increase the value of the stakeholders’ influence in the project.

As in every case of business proposals, as this would be, it needs to be clarified what the winning for the opposite party is. As mentioned earlier, Makerspace has lots of aspects to gain by including stakeholders, but what could be gained by the stakeholders? Let us take a further look at this complex, yet important subject! The upsides will vary from stakeholder to stakeholder, but these are some examples that can be used to attract stakeholders’ involvement and engagement:

  • Headhunting talents – by engaging with students the businesses would have a unique opportunity to headhunt talents to their organization
  • At the same time as learners can access equipment that is not available in their own VET providers organization, workers could access knowledge and equipment that is not available within their organization
  • The stakeholder gets the opportunity to market themselves – both in the terms of meeting the upcoming work force within their industry, but also in the terms of being able to promote themselves as an organization who values putting in resources in education
  • Involvement in educational initiatives can strengthen relationships with government entities and policymakers, potentially influencing education policies and regulations beneficial to the business environment

The triple helix model

Source: Triple Helix Strategic Interactions in a Developed Country (Red Indicates Science Park)
Kimatu, J.N. – Kimatu, J.N. Evolution of strategic interactions from the triple to quad helix innovation models for sustainable development in the era of globalization. J Innov Entrep 5, 16 (2016).
Triple Helix Strategic Interactions in a Developed Country (Red Indicates Science Park)

“The Triple Helix Model” is a model that was developed by Henry Etzkowitz and Loet Leydessdorf in the 1990’s to illustrate the collaborative relationships that drive innovation and economic development.

Here you can find an example of how Saab has used this model:
Engagement in the Triple Helix model empowers VET providers with:

  1. Enhanced Relevance of Education: VET providers align their programs with industry needs, ensuring students receive current, applicable knowledge, and skills, thus improving their employability.
  2. Access to Resources and Expertise: Collaboration provides access to industry resources, funding, and expertise, enriching educational experiences through research projects, internships, and industry-sponsored initiatives.
  3. Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Partnership cultivates a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, exposing students to real-world challenges and encouraging creative problem-solving.
  4. Professional Development for Educators: Opportunities for educators include professional development workshops, networking, and collaboration with industry professionals, enhancing teaching practices and subject knowledge.

VET providers offer stakeholders:

  1. Access to Talent Pipeline: VET providers provide a pool of skilled graduates, meeting industry demand for qualified employees and supporting workforce development.
  2. Research and Innovation Collaboration: Collaboration with VET providers enhances research and innovation efforts, combining academic expertise with industry knowledge to address complex challenges and drive technological advancements.
  3. Community Engagement and Social Impact: VET providers engage with the community, addressing societal needs, promoting social responsibility, and contributing to positive social change.
  4. Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning: VET providers offer ongoing education and training, ensuring employees remain competitive, adaptable, and equipped with the skills needed for success in a rapidly evolving economy.

Toronto Metropolitan University has created a list of dos and don’ts when networking, that can be looked at for extra insights on how to network in different environment:

The University of Arizona has created a similar article


To be able to drive innovative projects, as the Next Generation Makerspace, in a successful and developing way for our students, we are dependent on external stakeholders. This may seem complicated and time-demanding, but by using our existing network – both the VET institutions and personnel – a lot of the work has already been done. In the business plan for your NGM, the stakeholders will be identified. This identification of stakeholders should be looked on as a base for the stakeholder supply for the NGM and be developed continuously to make sure that the needs of the students are being met. One of the fundamental philosophies for the NGM’s are to get VET students to meet the needs in our society for new innovations, and as the needs are changing, so must also the supply of external help in the shape of equipment, competence and input.

It can be quite tricky to convey external partners, such as businesses and organizations, to invest their time, resources and finances in educational projects, but by looking at models such as the “Triple Helix Model”, it becomes clear that there are winnings for all partners involved. It is of great importance to try to meet the wants and needs of the stakeholders, to make sure that they continue to keep the collaboration going. In some cases, the winnings for the stakeholders could be to offer a collaboration in a different area than the NGM. This could be offering access to equipment that they do not have access to.

Course materials

Co-funded by the EU

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.
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