UNITA R&I focusing in rural  and mountain territories needs in Renewable Energy, Circular Economy and Cultural Heritage

Rural and mountain regions, specially cross-border areas, are being deeply affected by core-periphery dynamics. This factor causes a gradual isolation and demographic decrease in non-central areas, which are heavily suffering a depopulation process. But mountains are also a wonderful laboratory for research, experimentation and innovation and for developing new uses related to emerging technologies. They are also territories which are living the environmental transition of our societies and experiencing their impacts and threats.

Apart from conserving and managing a common cultural (and natural) heritage, rural and mountain territories, through research partnerships, must contribute to structuring the European area. Given this potential and attractiveness, the UNITA universities, which are solidly anchored in their territories, propose to set up an experimental model by de-compartmentalizing approaches and policies and thus offering a profoundly renewed vision.

The objective is to define a framework for action shared by all the public or private stakeholders of the territories wishing to get involved under the UNITA leadership, contributing in this way to reinforce Smart Specialization Strategies and to build a model of sustainable development for rural areas aligned with the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UNITA strategy is firmly committed with the three Os policy as defined by the European Commission in 2016: Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World.

In order to contribute to the sustainable development of their territories UNITA research and innovation was focus during the first phase of the project on three main thematic areas:

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Renewable Energies
  • Circular Economy

Three new thematic areas have been added in the consolidation phase:

  • Global health
  • Digital transition
  • Inclusive societies

Through these six main areas UNITA can contribute to the development of rural and mountain areas through promoting the value of the natural resources, developing networks of circular economy (including bio-economy), linking different economic activities (agriculture, tourism, industry and crafts), promoting the richness of the cultural and linguistic heritage, and optimising the relationship among the different actors of each ecosystem.

Learn more» 

UNITA for Research

The UNITA Alliance aims at contributing to the educational, scientific and cultural progress of the regions of the countries involved, fostering sustainable development, strengthening the local innovation ecosystems supporting the transition to a knowledge-based economy, whilst promoting and accelerating European integration within and beyond the territories.

The Universities of the Alliance support the creation of translational thematic and interdisciplinary research groups, through matching events on research in different scientific topics and grants attributed to the projects developed among partner Universities.

UNITA Starting Grants on Research

The UNITA Starting Grants on Research aim at accelerating the development of interuniversity groups of educators, researchers and innovators who share a common interest in a field of knowledge and want to develop the field further through exchanges of good practice and the launch of joint projects.



The call for starting grants on:

  • Tourism and cultural heritage in a digital world
  • Renewable energy mixes and materials for a more sustainable world

is open until Wednesday May 8th, 2024

The projects must be submitted by teaching staff or researchers from at least three different university partners of the UNITA Alliance, and should include in the working group postdocs and PhD candidates.

The duration of a project is up to 12 months.

Multidisciplinary projects are particularly welcome.


Download the calls here:


Links to the application:


Timetable for the first call

Launch of the call 

08th of April 2024

Deadline for submission 

08th of May 2024 - midnight (CET)

Result notification 

end July 2024

Latest project start date 

30th of September 2024

Project duration 

12 Months

Reporting due 

30th of October 2025



Research Cartography

The UNITA Research and Innovation cartography is a public access database that maps the R&I activities carried out in UNITA universities.

Research staff members from UNITA universities working on projects under one or more of the three Research Axes are strongly encouraged to participate: it is a great opportunity to increase the visibility of projects, paving the way for the establishment of fruitful research synergies and partnerships between researchers from different universities, who can come together to apply for funding.

Access the Research Cartography»

Co-working spaces

Co-working spaces are implemented in the UNITA universities to help students, companies, institutions, and researchers connect and work together on proposals aiming to develop rural and mountain territories.

Each UNITA university has enabled a flexible space that serves as a meeting point where UNITA's activities and people come together with the three HUBS to work on generating employment and entrepreneurship in cultural heritage, circular economy and renewable energy.


UNITA Cultural Heritage HUB co-working 

UNITA Renewable Energy HUB co-working

UNITA Circular Economy HUB co-working


You can follow all our activities in Events

Contact the UNITA OFFICES  if you have ideas, projects or illusions:


On September 2021, the six universities of the UNITA Alliance began a new project, called “Re-UNITA: Research for UNITA", with a grant of 2 million € from the European Commission, in the framework of the H2020 programme, within the call « Science With and For Society » (SWAFS).  

Highlighting the importance of UNITA and its potential in the field of research and innovation, we aim, during the 3 years of the project, to create an enabling environment for the emergence of a shared research and innovation agenda within the UNITA alliance.

Re-UNITA is coordinated by the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA) including all the universities involved in the pilot phase.

Learn more» :


UNITA Shared Research Infrastructures

A simplified access for researchers to cutting-edge equipments.


UNITA universities have chosen to pool most of their research equipment in a shared database. This database is part of the Re-UNITA project (funded by the European Commission's Horizion 2020 program). Beyond facilitating access to equipment that is not necessarily available in all laboratories and with internal-users fares, this initiative is encouraging new collaborative approaches between the different institutions.

UNITA universities can provide a financial support.

For more information see the dedicated website, with the shared infrastructure database and the local contact points.

Discover the testimony of Grégory Chatel, a researcher from Savoie Mont-Blanc University, as he shares his experience with infrastructure sharing:

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