In this article, we present a rationale for investigating the role and contributions of universities to growth and sustainable development within the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy (EU2020). To this extent, the literature suggests that the contemporary universities’ mission in the knowledge society relies on their capacity to promote knowledge exchange. This allows expansion of the degree of intervention of universities in society and broadening of the institutional and policy frameworks within which they operate, opening to a wider range of possible contributions of social science and humanities to the EU2020 objectives, which are not limited to education and research policies.
We present the Short supply chain Knowledge and Innovation Network (SKIN) project (H2020-2016)1 as an example of a systemic approach to university-business-society dialogue, based on the role of universities as “knowledge hubs” (Yusuf, 2008) and aimed at promoting knowledge exchange and multi-actor cooperation. One of the main challenges of the project relies on the capacities of the involved actors to cooperate and, thus, on the mechanisms activated in order to ensure such collaboration. To this extent, the role of humanities and social sciences, in particular multidisciplinary and participatory research, is crucial for the success of the process of knowledge circulation within and for society.