SHINE Partnerships that create value in society

Picture Credit Pixabay


In January 2023, this webinar addressed 3 Key Questions -

1) Why should organisations enter into partnerships?

2) What factors are essential if a partnership is going to be successful?

3) What are some of the likely obstacles to partnerships that need to be anticipated and overcome?


Roberto Brambilla, SHINE Partner,

Italy 🇮🇹

Stefan Chichevaliev, SHINE Partner, North Macedonia 🇲🇰

Viviana Premazzi, SHINE Partner, Malta🇲🇹

Moderator and rapporteur

Paul Coyle, SHINE Partner, France 🇫🇷


Registrations were received from participants in 12 countries:

Albania 🇦🇱, Bulgaria 🇧🇬, Ecuador 🇪🇨, England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿, France 🇫🇷, Italy 🇮🇹,   Malta 🇲🇹, Morocco🇲🇦

North Macedonia🇲🇰, Romania🇷🇴,

Scotland🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 & Serbia🇷🇸.

How to reference this summary:

Brambilla, R., Chichevaliev, S., Coyle, P., and Premazzi, V., 2023, Partnerships that create value in society, Entrepreneurial Mindset Network, accessed [insert date], <>.


During the webinar, participants shared their opinions and experiences by voting in 3 on-screen polls.  The results are shown below.

Poll 1: Why should our organisations enter into partnerships?

To create value for society 100%

To address sustainable development goals 67%

To create new knowledge 50%

To jointly apply for additional resources 50%

To share existing resources 33%

To innovate with new products and services 33%

Poll 2: What factors are essential if a partnership is going to be successful?

A shared and agreed purpose 100%

A project plan with timelines, deadlines and tangible outputs 86%

Frequent communication and regular activities 71%

A clear statement of the role to be played by each participant 57%

Clarity about the benefits of the collaboration for each participant 43%

Geographical proximity 0%

Poll 3: What are some of the likely obstacles to partnerships that need to be anticipated and overcome?

Delays in responding to communication 75%

A  failure to align the requirements of the partnership with the many other priorities that contributors have 62%

A lack of a regular update on progress with the project plan 62%

A loss of clarity over time about what is required of each contributor 37%

Failure to demonstrate the positive impact of the partnership 37%

A failure to get contributors to declare their commitment 25%

Video Clip: Roberto Brambilla

Setting the scene

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore is a civic, collaborative university, committed to the professional, human development of society.

The University establishes strategic relations with different actors, both at national and international level including, for example, other universities, governmental or local institutions, companies and firms, financial organisations, NGOs and not for profit foundations.

Through its “third mission” Università Cattolica creates value through business, cultural and social partnerships.

In this sense, the University is a cultural hub of the community, that engages people in its educational, scientific, philanthropic and social activities. 

Università Cattolica’s collaborations can be viewed through three microscopes (educational, scientific and social).

First, at the educational level, the enhancement of internationalisation, through student and faculty exchange agreements, or promoting double degrees programme with other university, or through the partnership with a variety of social and cultural institutions.

Second, at the scientific level, the development of research networks with universities, research centres worldwide and the business sector eg in the medical and agrifood sectors.

Thirdly, last but not least, the social level, which includes collaborations with schools e.g. drawing up new educational projects for children, young people and students with disabilities, and for teachers who need an upgrade in their competencies.

Achieving and Measuring Success

Università Cattolica tries to operate with an entrepreneurial mindset for a productive and fruitful change in society, as an entrepreneurial mindset is crucial to understanding and solving some of the most difficult problems we are currently facing in our lives.

There are a number of considerations when trying to determine the success of a partnership eg the lifelong learning programmes specifically devoted to training employees and managers in companies and public administration organisations.

If we stay on the surface, the first measures would be to reach the ‘break even’ number of applications, to have a good quantity of students, and be successful in upgrading their knowledge and skills.  

But we also need to go deeper, and be more aware of the long term effects and returns of our actions, not only towards single stakeholders, but also towards all the other people, society and the general public.

We might consider the scientific and technological impact, innovation and knowledge transfer, the dissemination to civil society of the results produced by university research, the effects on the brand of the university brand or its partners.

Impact deals with all the effects produced downstream, a project, the whole value chain.  Assessing longer-term impact forces a deeper analysis of the aims and purposes of projects and partnerships. 

It is complex to assess the impact of a partnership. The real impact of a successful partnership in the field of education is whether or not it answered social needs. 

Overcoming Obstacles

Several common obstacles can arise in partnerships. A typical obstacle is misaligned goals or expectations. Sometimes one of the partners may have a different idea of the purpose or vision of a project. This case can lead to a potential conflict or disaffection in relations. 

It is very important to improve communication and make every effort to communicate effectively and regularly. Partners should have open and honest conversations about their goals and expectations as soon as they start collaborating. 

It is very important for all the people involved to take time to build good communication so as to avoid any misunderstanding or mistrust. The lack of trust is a crucial component in any partnership breakdown. Because if partners do not trust each other, it can be difficult or even impossible to move forward in a project. We can build trust by being transparent, reliable and consistent in our actions and in words.


it can also be difficult to achieve common goals or make progress in a partnership, if the commitment is not fully shared inside the organisation, from the head to the bottom of the organisation.

Other problems arise from bureaucracy eg related to legal issues, managing finances or allocating resources. 

There are different strategies that can be used to overcome obstacles: act ethically, be respectful, build common ground, be fair, flexible, be willing to adapt to different working styles, be open to feedback, aim for good behaviour and find ways of working that are mutually beneficial.

Video Clip: Stefan Chichevaliev

Setting the scene

Social Entrepreneurship Observatory (SEO) is a Regional Resource Center, a platform for monitoring, collaboration and partnerships to develop and promote social entrepreneurship in South-East Europe.

The mission of the Social Entrepreneurship Observatory is threefold. 

First, SEO observes and monitors the development of social entrepreneurship in South Eastern Europe. 

Second, SEO is a resource center, doing research, building capacity and training new social entrepreneurs.

Thirdly, SEO advocates with the political structures to improve the ecosystems for social entrepreneurship in South-Eastern Europe. 

One of the main principles for SEO is partnerships, for the purpose of sharing knowledge, experience, data, and research.

SEO collects data about the social entrepreneurship sector, compares the information from different countries and identifies the best case studies and lessons.

What works

It helps to have shared goals in relation to creating value for society, working towards societal change and improving the quality of life.

There can be general goals like the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but there are also specific goals that are related to the immediate needs of a community or target group.

Partnerships must take into account the missions of the partner organisations, the immediate needs of the intended beneficiaries, as well as value creation for the general population.

Successful partnerships need mutual understanding, shared vision, clear objectives, equal effort, trust and respect for the expertise of others. 

Open communication is key to a successful partnerships.  Otherwise, there can be a lot of confusion, doubt and stress which makes things difficult. You have to be tolerant, get to know your partners and provide feedback. 

Impact is very important and a complicated question, especially with partners from different contexts. It is vital to acknowledge the importance that each country has its own context and ecosystem.  

The challenges

When the principles that make successful partnerships are missing then they become obstacles. For example, a shared vision is an important success factor but if you don’t have it the partnership is probably not going to last.

Signing a Memorandum of Cooperation or Non Disclosure Agreement can help to negotiate the key agreements that underpin a partnership.

Equal effort by all partners is also important. Unequal distribution of effort is not sustainable and will undermine the partnership.

Open, clear and direct communication, and availability and accessibility of the partners, can solve most of the issues. Partners need to be able to express their concerns. The best approach is to talk directly to people.

If there are a large number of organisations in a network or individual organisations are large in size, communication can be complicated and decisions delayed. Smaller organisations can get things done more quickly. Bureaucracy can be a very challenging in academia and large organisations.

A major question is how to create social value in one environment and then be able to replicate a similar value creation in a different environment.

Viviana Premazzi

Setting the scene

I strongly believe in partnerships. I know I have expertise and knowledge but there are so many other things I can discover through partnerships. It is through these types of collaboration that I am sure I can have a bigger impact and be able to create even more value to society.

Also through partnerships and collaboration you show a different model of society, not based on competition but on collaboration.

It may seem counterintuitive but I agree with the saying "if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together".

What works

Partnerships work when there is a shared idea that we can learn from each other.

Even if in some projects you have a project leader or a long-established organization, the partnerships that were most successful were the ones where there was this spirit of mutual learning.

Also roles need to be very clear, otherwise, especially if you have many partners, things can become really complicated.

It is necessary to know the role of each partner and the expectations about their commitment, so everyone knows the time and resources that are needed.

The challenges

It is an obstacle when roles are not clear, so this is one of the first things to agree upon. 

Another problem is when a partner takes advantage of their leadership role by not involving others. The idea should be that we all benefit eg financially, through building relationships or networking. 

The wrong attitude can undermine long-lasting partnerships and the sustainability of projects.

Unfortunately, a partner can be greedy, even in projects and partnerships that want to bring change and add value to society. So if we see this kind of behaviour we need to be able to call them out and change the way of doing things even if this means losing the project or that relationship. 

Reflections on this webinar

Creating Know how 

In the Shine Project, we don't want to just identify the challenges. We want to propose some of the solutions to those challenges. We want to provide suggestions and useful ideas for other people who experience these problems eg try this, this might work and have you thought of doing this? We want to anticipate the problems they are likely to encounter, to know what problems to watch out for and to understand how to overcome them. It is encouraging to know that the majority of partnerships and collaborations face the same types of challenges.  Knowing that we are all experiencing similar, or the same, issues gives more confidence that these problems can be understood and solutions found.

Applying the lessons from today to the SHINE Project

We want to apply these reflections on successful partnerships to the Shine project itself, to this partnership. The purpose and the goals of SHINE are very clear. We are well-coordinated and communicate very well eg using the website. Dividing the project into 4 conversations has brought a focus for each partner in the Project. There are no big obstacles to our collaboration.

Although contributions by each partner are currently voluntary, nevertheless people are making time to contribute, and gradually, as time progresses, we are co-creating more and more useful content for the website and outputs from the project. We need to make sure that the project continues to align with the core interests that we have as individuals and the responsibilities we have in our jobs.

It would desirable to win some funding in the future to support the project eg mobility between partners.  We will be able to provide evidence of the strength of our partnership and the value of its outputs. 

The idea of a physical meeting for each of the 4 conversations is a good one.  It would allow us to meet people, to make presentations, to talk in more detail about how to take things further and consider whether we could have research papers in the future.