SMEs in focus: Six months university employment and development of business idea
The Project Creating Competitive Jobs (CCJobs) was initiated by Lund University and had its kick-off as an Interreg ØKS-project in June this year. It represents an innovation model used in the US under the name “SBIR” – Small Business Innovation Research, which is now being tested in cross border collaboration between Danish and Swedish partners. The model, in all its simplicity, gives the SMEs an opportunity to send an employee to a university for six months to investigate and develop a business idea in collaboration with scientists and using the university facilities. During the six months, the SME-employee will be on leave from the company and instead employed by the university at a salary corresponding to his/her current employment – all financed by the project. 11 partners participate in the project; six institutions and five SME business organisations. The goal is to create jobs and growth in the Øresund region based on new SME-academia innovation collaborations which are to raise the SMEs’ level of knowledge.
The on-line application period ended on 4 November. More than 90 ideas for collaboration between SME’s and universities stretching over a large variation of scientific fields are currently being evaluated by the project partners. This is far more than expected according to the project leader of CCJobs, Caroline Hansson, “It clearly shows the interest and need SME’s have for development which they cannot perform on their own” she explains.
Throughout December, 25 applicants from very different scientific fields are being invited to interviews during which they can elaborate on their online applications and discuss concrete steps forward. All in all, 14 persons from SME’s will be offered employment from April 2014 at interested universities, but only after concrete contracts between companies and universities are convened concerning IP-rights and commitment to the project. “Two criteria remain central for selecting the final 14; the single project’s ability to create jobs in the Øresund Region and the possibility for creating fruitful university-company collaboration” Caroline Hansson Explains.
“The whole process is quite exiting and we have met an overwhelming interest from all sides. If all goes well, we hope that this is just the beginning of a new system for collaboration which boosts innovation in SMEs and creates growth in our region.” Caroline concludes.