The Project

Welcome to Unite for
Horizon Europe Project!

While the Horizon 2020 programme has demonstrated closer and more increased collaboration activities in comparison with its predecessor FP7, the European Commission is looking to “raise the bar in the quality and widening of participation” in its follow-up Horizon Europe programme period, commencing after 2020. It particularly concerns the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in innovation partnerships as the latter have been reported considerably low, resulting in lower intensity of cross-sectoral cooperation among knowledge providers and smaller businesses. Observing this gap inspired an international consortium of partners from Cyprus, France, Finland, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Ireland to undertake a brand-new Erasmus+ project “Unite for Horizon Europe” (UNITE4H), which aims to identify the limitations and help build strategic engagement capacity between academics and SME representatives to develop, apply and implement projects within the Horizon Europe framework.

Notably, many SMEs continue to struggle to adopt the right strategy, business processes, skills, or other resources to get involved in European funding partnerships. Similarly, even though the participation of the higher education institutions (HEIs) and research organisations in the Horizon 2020 has been the strongest among others, their involvement for the new framework is deemed to be further enhanced by the provision of tailored support for collaboration with a more diverse range of stakeholders. In the light of the low success rate and missed opportunities for more strategic cooperation between HEIs and SMEs, the availability of supportive engagement training programmes is crucial.

Throughout the life of the project, we will produce several outputs. The project starts off with an investigation into the needs and challenges experienced by HEI and SME representatives, resulting into a programme framework. Based on this framework, we will develop a training programme and toolkit to increase awareness, skills, and knowledge capacity among academics and SME representatives. The two training programmes, one for SMEs and one for HEIs, each consist of several modules. During the last phase, these modules will be pilot tested among academics and SME representatives within the partners’ institutions and networks.

Our Goal

The goal of the Unite for Horizon Europe (UNITE4H) project is to help build strategic
engagement capacity between European academics and researchers and SME
representatives to increase the proportion of successful collaborative participation in the Horizon Europe initiatives. We believe an increased engagement between HEIs and SMEs, as well as foundations and other stakeholders around targeted Horizon Europe projects will not only help deliver on a united approach to societal challenges, but also help strengthen the means of funding for HEIs to be able to concentrate their efforts on the entire innovation cycle from research to market.

The Training Programs

SME Representatives

The training modules for this target group among others will cover the research opportunities for SMEs presented within Horizon Europe funding framework, strategies for overcoming barriers and challenges of cooperation with HEIs, the use of SMEs’ strengths and their contribution to the research project development and implementation, etc.

HEI Researchers and Academics

The training modules for this target group will include an overview of Horizon Europe funding framework research opportunities, internal and external asset mapping, institutional challenges in setting up partnerships with businesses, strategies on running collaborative research projects, etc.

Our Intellectual Outputs

The framework will be built on in-depth research that will identify the status-quo of academics and SME representatives’ engagement skills and competences, as well as facilitators, challenges, and perceived partnership opportunities. The research will involve desk research, interviews, and surveys to be conducted primarily in the partner HEI and SME contexts, as well across Europe.

The programme modules within the two training programmes, will broadly cover an overview of the Horizon Europe programme, desired selection and nature of SME-HEI partnerships according to identified priorities, and SME & HEI customised skills and competence development for strategic research engagement. The toolkit will consist of learning, teaching and assessment resources and facilitator guidelines.

The report will capture the pilot testing of the Training Programme by the partner HEIs and SMEs. The pilot programme will be delivered to academics and SME representatives within the institutions and the networks of the project partner organisations. The report will involve feedback collected from both participants and the trainers as well.