Practice based research to enhance the innnovation capacity of SMEs through learning and ICT supported collaboration Erasmus Project

General information for the Practice based research to enhance the innnovation capacity of SMEs through learning and ICT supported collaboration Erasmus Project

Practice based research to enhance the innnovation capacity of SMEs through learning and ICT supported collaboration Erasmus Project
July 7, 2020 12:00 am
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Project Title

Practice based research to enhance the innnovation capacity of SMEs through learning and ICT supported collaboration

Project Key Action

This project related with these key action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices

Project Action Type

This project related with this action type : Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and training

Project Call Year

This project’s Call Year is 2017

Project Topics

This project is related with these Project Topics: Open and distance learning; Entrepreneurial learning – entrepreneurship education; Enterprise, industry and SMEs (incl. entrepreneurship)

Project Summary

Small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, are the dominant form of business organisations in the EU. The new economy brings with it many challenges for SMEs. In order to survive SMEs, need to be innovative. However, innovation alone does not ensure success and the ability to turn ideas into value for a company and their customers is key. This requires an entrepreneurial mind-set which turns ideas into action (Zhao, 2005). A needs analysis with over 140 European SMEs reinforced this illustrating the need for skills that identified new opportunities for the business, new ways of doing business and using technology to deliver products/services. SME owner/managers are concerned about the survival of their organisations and find it difficult to forward plan (Garland et al, 1984). It is important for SMEs to develop an internal entrepreneurial culture (intrapreneurship) to support SME owners in growing the company into the future and become more innovative.

The aim of the ReInnovate project was to address this gap by providing an inquiry based entrepreneurial education program for employees in SMEs to develop research skills allowing them to create the knowledge to develop new ideas to progress their company, implement these ideas and reflect on their success. Reinnovate focused on employees in SMEs and building an entrepreneurial mind-set through inquiry, leveraging some of the responsibility from the owner/managers.

ReInnovate has developed a learning methodology and accredited curriculum to support the development of SME orientated practice based research skills in order to ensure research skills were orientated towards the needs of SMEs; developed the learning material for the ‘Smart Research as a 21st Century Skill for Business’ programme and developed an ICT platform to support the delivery, mentoring and development of research skills in SMEs; has tested and evaluated the Smart Research as a 21st Century Skill for Business programme with SME learners in the EU to ensure it met with requirements. 178 SME learners registered for the programme, with a total of 68 SME learners completing all of the modules; has developed a methodology to transfer the development of research skills to a variety of sectors and VET programmes. A report ‘Integration of practical research skills into entrepreneurship education’ describes the process and the results of the programme developed and the recommendations for the transferability of the course and the platform.

• An SME working group of 10 SME owner/managers provided feedback to ensure project outputs addressed the needs of SMEs in their sectors.
• 178 SME learners across all partner countries took part in the pilot of the Smart Research as a 21st Century Skill for Business programme.
• 16 SME owner/managers participated in a survey to evaluate how the Smart Research as a 21st Century Skill for Business programme met the needs of their sector.
• 13 VET providers participated in workshops, online discussions and surveys to inform the development of the transferability model.

For SME learners that participated in the pilot programme the impact has been the development of a new set of skills allowing them to fill knowledge gaps; develop an entrepreneurial culture; and also the development, implementation and evaluation of an opportunity to make their SME organisation more competitive. The SME learners noted the impact of the workplace project which had directly benefited their organisations (29% noted that it had improved the productivity of the process, 16% noted improved quality of a product, 16% noted that it solved a long standing problem, and 10% noted reduced number of defects in product/process). Participation in the programme has increased the work opportunities and progression of the SME learners and the analysis of the learner interviews and reflective learning journals all participants noted an improvement in their knowledge and skill level through participation in the programme, including communication skills, research skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills. All participants were unanimous that the learning experience had a positive impact on their professional development. For VETs the impact of Reinnovate has been to enable them to adapt their programmes to increase their target audience to individuals in SMEs as well as entrepreneurs. It has provided the potential to integrate teaching methods that develop research skills that are relevant to the needs of SMEs and to increase the number of SME learners undertaking their programmes. The project has raised awareness and improved recognition of work based research skills in SMEs. It has provided VETs with insight into the current learning needs of SMEs and a pathway for VETs to collaborate with SMEs and improve the working relationship between education and industry.

EU Grant (Eur)

Funding of the project from EU: 284454 Eur

Project Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK & Country: IE

Project Partners

  • SC IPA SA
  • WESTFALISCHE HOCHSCHULE GELSENKIRCHEN, BOCHOLT, RECKLINGHAUSEN
  • Siauliu prekybos, pramones ir amatu rumai
  • ISME LIMITED
  • CAMARA OFICIAL DE COMERCIO INDUSTRIA Y NAVEGACION DE SEVILLA