The importance of universities operating locally was seen as essential for economic growth. Participants discussed the fact that universities’ local partnerships varied greatly, while some had a good ethos of working to support local firms others saw themselves more globally. It was suggested that universities should look to demonstrate what types of organisation they are working with and the steps they are taking to improve these links.
How can we support SMEs to access appropriate expertise/support in universities?
The discussion started around whether there is a demand from SMEs for this access to universities. It was identified that at present only a small amount of SMEs (0.5%) have the capacity and resources to engage with universities.
- Universities need to be clear what demand there is from SMEs.
- Universities should underline the reasons why they are working with SMEs and the impact they are having.
- The benefits for both sides need to be made explicit.