SMEs and university colleges - partners in innovation

SMEs and university colleges - partners in innovation

IDEA Consult was commissioned by the Agency of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Flemish government (VLAIO) to research how SMEs, social profit organisations and university colleges could be better knowledge partners. Flemish university colleges have a special position in the distribution of knowledge in the innovation landscape. Departing from the practical orientation of their teaching assignments, the university colleges 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 and  other forms of service and funding started to be considered. It is in this context that VLAIO wanted to gain insights into the interaction between university colleges and SMEs & social profit organisations, as well as in the impact on services.

In the research study on behalf of VLAIO, we have addressed the following research questions:

  1. How can SMEs and the social profit sector, and university colleges be better knowledge partners for each other?
  2. How can we strengthen the supply of other institutes?
  3. How do the university colleges 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 university colleges 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 university colleges?

Based on the results of this study, the university colleges 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