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Practice based research to enhance the innovation capacity of SMEs through learning and ICT supported colloboration / ReInnovate

Aim and task

Innovation involves the utilisation of new knowledge or a new use or combination of existing knowledge. Education providers have long been sources of this knowledge but often higher education produce 'general research' and an internal research capacity is required to allow companies to adapt and use this research to the company requirements and particularly their business. However small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular often do not have this internal capacity due to limited resources.

Reinnovate project complements this need by developing research skills in SMEs to enable them to absorb new knowledge and innovations offered by external sources such as research and education institutes and conduct small scale research projects.

Traditionally research skills are taught as part of an academic program and are delivered from an academic perspective. These are not designed with the requirements for such research skills from an SME perspective.

ReInnovate partners have conducted a needs analysis to design a programme to use research skills as a basis to enable SMEs to develop the knowledge they need to create innovative ideas and translate this knowledge into value. This will enable companies to become more entrepreneurial innovative.

The project focusses on using systematic research to facilitate the development of research and entrepreneurial skills in employees in SMEs to

1. Assist them to find/create the knowledge required to become more competitive

2. Develop a culture of entrepreneurship

3. Help them to become more innovative

The target group for Reinnovate consists of employees in SMEs with:

1) Between 9 and 100 employees (91% in the needs analysis are in this category)

2) In the services, manufacturing and technology industries (72% of SMEs are in this category)

Main activities of Reinnovate are

  1. Development of a learning methodology and accredited curriculum to support the development of SME orientated practice based research skills. This will ensure that the research skills are orientated towards the needs
  2. Design a level 6 higher certificate in practice based research to teach these skills in modules to employees in SMEs. The modules will be based on the needs analysis and the ENTRECOMP framework and will help to develop entrepreneurial mindset in SMEs
  3. Development of ICT tools to support the mentoring and achievement of research skills in SMEs. This will provide flexible pathways for SME learners
  4. Piloting these modules and tools in companies in EU to ensure it meets the requirements identified in EU policies and the needs analysis
  5. Transferring the methodology to other sectors and VET programs
  6. Designing cooperation models between companies.

Project partners are SMEs organisations and representatives, higher education and research institutions from five European countries.