45aThe collaboration between universities and SMEs should be based on small projects. These projects must be focused in localized and specific problematic areas in the companies, where the potential of improvement and innovation is large, must diagnose the problematic situation and propose new and efficient solutions supported by technical/scientific methodologies. The involvement of managers and collaborators of SMEs and the clearly definition of their roles in the project are fundamental issues for the collaboration success.

Collaboration plan between HEIs and SMEs


  • Meeting of University Professor and Senior Management
  • Objectives of project collaboratively defined
  • Discreet and not complex
  • Define the project task
  • Milestones
  • Aim is to solve the company’s organisational or technical problem


  • Gathering of the system/product information
  • Diagnosis of the system/product
  • Identification of critical points
  • Purpose of general solution

Solutions Development

  • Development of procedures, tools, software, etc.
  • Validation of the developed system
  • Technincal and economical impact analysis
  • Implementation of the optimum solution

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The model presented describes an innovative step-by-step procedure, a collaboration plan between HEIs and SMEs. It emphasises the impact of some details during the collaboration process that enhance the success potential of university-SME companies’ projects, the quality of the research work produced and the quality of young future engineers training. It also fits with the SME companies’ demands of a mix of structured knowledge and empirical experience.

The proposed model assures the response to the industry needs, but also to the university researcher’s need of papers publishing. The university students and faculty benefit from the interaction as they learn about the necessities and the improvement potential of the industry and gain real-life exposure to practical problem-solving experiences that they do not encounter in the classroom or in the laboratory.