Enhance interaction between HEIs and SMEs to stimulate research and innovation
Paper i proceeding, 2020

To be more competitive and innovative, SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) should benefit from access to more advanced research through an increased collaboration with HEIs (Higher Education Institutions). Based on the need to improve understanding of both the obstacles and opportunities regarding collaborations between SMEs and HEIs, the GIENAHS Erasmus Plus Project was established as a partnership between SMEs and HEIs from six EU countries. The study described in this paper aims to find ways for HEIs to improve their ability to interact with SMEs and vice versa, both through joint research and industry PhD students; as well as to propose strategies and methods for optimal long-term relationships and collaborations, including win-win situations for HEIs and SMEs.
A questionnaire was developed and sent out to both HEIs and SMEs in each of the six partner countries. The results are based on the responses from 37 HEIs and 73 SMEs, which were analysed using the accepted model in decision theory, the Weighted Sum Model (WSM). The results were based mainly on the questionnaires, but also to some extent on complementary interviews.
A great deal of the results are country specific, with some few exceptions. Besides the fact that the data differs between the countries, there is also a variation within the countries. There may be several reasons for these differences, for instance pre-existing SME/HEI relationships and collaborations, or if the university/department has a focus on applied or fundamental research.
Both similarities and dissimilarities were found in the answers from both HEIs and SMEs. Both HEIs and SMEs share the viewpoint that they are open to collaborations for the purpose of a mutual transfer of knowledge. SMEs are generally interested in investing in staff competencies. The majority of the interviewed SMEs had not considered PhD programs before this study. The results show a willingness towards extending networks and contacts in order to create relationships and thus establish fruitful collaborations between HEIs and SMEs, thereby also enhancing research competence. This could potentially be done by establishing a common European standard for interaction between HEIs and SMEs.
The conclusion of this study is in line with the project goal of increasing innovation capacity in the EU. It could broadly be summarised as: university-industry collaboration is a win-win experience for both parties as well as for society. It helps to close the gap between industry/SMEs and academia. A successful partnership involves strategies and goals for both HEIs and SMEs (industry) and for achieving impact.

University-SME interaction

Research collaboration



PhD program


Per Lövsund

Chalmers, Mekanik och maritima vetenskaper, Fordonssäkerhet

Angela Hillemyr

Chalmers, Mekanik och maritima vetenskaper

Nikolaos Krikis

NOESIS Technologies P.C.

2020 University-Industry Interaction Online Conference

2020 University-Industry Interaction Online Conference
Online, ,

GIENAHS - Grasping Innovation in Europe through a closer iNterAction between HEIs and SMEs

Europeiska kommissionen (EU) (588071-EPP1-2017-1IT-EPPKA2-KA), 2018-01-01 -- 2020-12-31.


Tvärvetenskapliga studier




Innovation och entreprenörskap

Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete

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