British universities have won places in four of the first six projects in a pioneering cooperation programme between the European Union and Canada.
Aberdeen, Luton, Sheffield and the Robert Gordon universities are among 45 institutions to win seedcorn funding over three years of Ecu600,000 (Pounds 744,000) on the European side and Can$1million (Pounds 500,000) from Canada.
Unlike existing EU schemes, the programmes embrace higher education and vocational education and training, and aim to foster links between higher and further education and with bodies such as chambers of commerce and professional associations. Almost 500 students are expected to benefit.
Sheffield, collaborating with Belgian, Spanish and Canadian universities, is to investigate approaches to dealing with offenders.
Jim Dignan, of Sheffield's centre for criminological and legal research, said North America was a pioneer of "restorative justice", making offenders confront the consequences of crime.
Luton is involved with institutions in Canada, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands in a project to boost successful international cooperation in business and technology by making the next generation of managers and engineers more sensitive to cultural differences.
The Robert Gordon University, alongside universities in Canada, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, will examine regionalism and the relationship between the centre and the periphery in the EU and Canada. Aberdeen University is collaborating with institutions in the north of Canada, Finland and Sweden to look at the problems faced in the sparsely populated northern regions, where young people are often unable or unwilling to find training or work.
Funding for the Canada-EU scheme is set to double in the next round. October 4 is the closing date for proposals.