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Aisab — Applied Innovation for Students and Business

The AISAB Project will address the need within the EU to improve the level of innovation and its impact, particularly in SMEs. Building on the work of other innovation projects and materials, it will develop approaches to develop the skills that support SME innovation from an HEI context and through VET. These complementary streams of work will see implementation of initiatives to drive innovation, both during the project and also on a sustainable basis, by embedding the outcomes in the day-to-day activities of HEIs and organisations delivering VET to SMEs.

The project objectives are to develop learning materials aimed at enhancing student skills in assessing and implementing innovation, and build tools that students can use to facilitate their impact when consulting in SMEs. It will also develop a toolkit for SMEs to self-diagnose their innovation practice, as well as putting in place business intervention approaches that can be used to enhance innovation practices in SMEs.

The AISAB consortium brings together a balanced mix of five higher education and three VET/SME Partners, with expertise in the development of skills for SMEs. All Partners have a focus on creating real impact for business growth through their activities. Together, they are experts in the development of VET learning materials, leading learning interventions for SMEs, and engaging with SMEs to facilitate business growth.

In consultation with students in HEIs and SME organisations, the project will develop materials and consultancy processes aimed at delivering increased skills for innovation and impact, through the active use of those skills in SME organisations.

This joint approach will strengthen the 'innovation ecosystem' by bringing together relevant stakeholders in the innovation system. It will be strengthened through cooperation, communication and the mutual exchange of knowledge at the HE and VET level, to bring about a connected approach and results.

The project adopts a practical approach that will result in HEIs adopting and embedding innovation modules in a way that will ensure their impact is sustained. Similarly, the project will embed tools with SME training and service providers, so that they become an integral part of their methodology and are sustained. All of these changes aim to create greater innovation in SMEs on an ongoing basis.

The impact for SMEs will include process improvements and better financial performance through greater levels of innovation. HEI students will build consultancy skills and enhance their employability. HEI and SME/training and service providers will improve their understanding of the barriers to innovation in SMEs, and enhance their provision through embedding innovation into the core of their products.

In the long term, the project results will remain available through a publicly accessible website. The project Partners also expect the materials to be reused and modified by other organisations in their regions, providing the platform for long term development of Innovation Management.