Local Enterprise Office helping support SMEs and third level

Local Enterprise Office helping support SMEs and third level
Ian Cameron ina.cameron@dundalkdemocrat.ie @IanAlexCameron

Forty local companies have already benefited from an innovative new programme that helps create relationships between small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).

The SHIP Programme has been led by the Local Enterprise Office in Louth and is delivering the programme in conjunction with the Local Enterprise Office in Meath along with Louth and Meath county councils.

The funding for this project comes from the Erasmus+ programme supported by the European Commission.

“This really is a first,” Programme Manager Sarah Mallon said. “Traditionally it was only large scale companies that were in a position to benefit from research and development supports from third level institutions. By examining the different needs of the SME community, we were able to develop really practical toolkits that would help the HEIs support them effectively.”

Head of Enterprise in Meath Joe English explains “The programme approaches this relationship building exercise from two angles. Firstly we work with SMEs to help them develop the skills they need to engage with research teams in the 3rd level sector. Secondly we work with the HEIs to ensure they understand the needs and limitations of working with SMEs and can deliver innovative supports to meet their needs.”

But this is not just limited to Louth or Meath. The Irish team are leading this project internationally with partners in UK, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Romania.

It has been a huge success and the results of the programme have been showcased in Brussels, Paris and as far afield as Southern Africa.

“What we’ve developed here in Louth and Meath, with our international partners, is a blueprint for SMEs and universities across the world to collaborate.

This can only be to the benefit of job creation and business growth in all the regions that use this model,” Sarah concluded.

Companies can take the free online course for SMEs on the www.InnovationAlliance.eu website.

This online training will help local companies prepare to work with 3rd level institutions, learn how to present their needs and discover possible funding options.