Third Mission is the set of activities with which universities interact with the society, alongside traditional teaching (first mission - interaction with students) and research (second mission - interaction with scientific communities) missions. Thus, with the Third Mission, universities come into direct contact with subjects and social groups that are further than those that are consolidated.
An essential distinction is that between (a) Third Mission of economic valorization of knowledge and (b) Third cultural and social Mission:
- in the first case, the Third Mission has the purpose of favoring economic growth by directing the knowledge. This includes the management of intellectual property, the creation of businesse areas, the search for third parties and the management of intermediation and support structures on a territorial scale;
- in the second case, public goods that increase the well-being of the community and that may have cultural, social, educational or civil awareness content are produced and distributed free of charge or at low prices.