SMEs and university colleges - partners in innovation

SMEs and university colleges - partners in innovation

IDEA Consult has been commissioned to research how SMEs, social profit organisations and higher education institutions can be better knowledge partners by the Agency of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Flemish government (VLAIO). Flemish higher education institutes have a special position in the distribution of knowledge in the innovation landscape. Departing from the practical orientation of their teaching assignments, the institutes are in close contact with the Flemish companies, especially the SMEs and the social profit sector. Knowledge diffusion typically took place through low-level expertise and service centres (LEDs), however funding for support from LEDs expired in 2016. IT is for this reason that other forms of service and funding are being considered. It is in this context that VLAIO is interested in gaining insights into the interaction between institutions and SMEs & social profit organizations, as well as the impact on services.

In the research we carry out on behalf of VLAIO we deal with the following research questions:

  1. How can SMEs and the social profit sector, and higher education institutes be better knowledge partners for each other?
  2. How can we strengthen the supply of other institutes?
  3. How do the institutes view the role of other knowledge actors in this area and vice versa? Are there overlapping areas or are there any obvious differences? Do you work together? What expectations do the institutes have in common?
  4. How can we support the current instruments to the questions above, where do we need to adjust?
  5. What is their impact on the internal functioning of higher education institutes?

Based on the results of this study, the universities of applied sciences have joined forces to make their offerings better known via 'Blikopener'

arrow team members
foto Miriam Van Hoed
Miriam Van Hoed
Senior Expert Innovation & Competitiveness


  • Flemish government