REAP Business Breakfast Event - SMEs and Higher Education

DIT REAP Business Breakfast Event - SMEs and Higher Education

May 23, 2013: Broadcaster and DIT graduate George Hook chaired a business breakfast event at DIT that explored ways to strengthen links between Higher Education Institutions and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The event was organised by REAP (Roadmap for Employer Academic Partnership) and was hosted in The Courtyard, DIT Aungier Street.

Making up the panel were Prof Tom Cooney (Professor in Entrepreneurship at DIT), Liz Carroll (Training and Development Manager with ISME), John Tynan (Head of Education, Training and Development at the Crafts Council of Ireland), Geraldine Lavin (Founding Director of 3rd IT and Business Services) and Aidan Sweeney (Executive for Enterprise and Innovation Policy at IBEC).

The meeting looked at SME/Higher Education Institution engagement and how this can contribute towards a national entrepreneurship policy.

Participants at the event were from a range of third level institutions and from industry.

Prof Tom Cooney (DIT and President of the International Council for Small Business) spoke of the importance of the role of education in entrepreneurship, highlighting the established link between education and new business start ups.

Liz Carroll (ISME) identified some of the challenges facing SMEs in engaging with higher education institutions including tight resources, access and communication issues.

REAP Business Breakfast Event - SMEs and Higher Education Group Shot

L-R: Aidan Sweeney, Geraldine Lavin, John Tynan, George Hook, Liz Carroll & Prof Tom Cooney

The importance of relationship development and ongoing dialogue with SMEs was raised by John Tynan (Craft Council of Ireland) and Geraldine Lavin (3rd i IT and Business Services), who also highlighted the importance of establishing clear pathways both into and out of third level institutions.

Aidan Sweeney (IBEC) also highlighted some of the significant challenges faced by SMEs when seeking to interact with third level institutions and emphasised the need for a strategic approach to developing engagement.

George Hook said he feels very passionate about this issue of connecting small to medium enterprises with what’s going on in the third level sector.

He then opened up the discussion with a Q&A session that raised some interesting issues, including the types of third level courses that teach the skills most needed by SMEs.

The event was organised by REAP, which is a collaborative project involving eight Higher Educational Institution (HEI) partners. It is led by Cork Institute of Technology with partners, Dublin Institute of Technology, NUI Galway, University College Cork, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Institute of Technology Sligo, Athlone Institute of Technology and Waterford Institute of Technology.

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