During the proposal preparation, Consortium of the project has analyzed, in detail, numerous reviews and reports about current state, problems and needs of WBC in areas of education, research and innovation, as well as SME potential and their needs. The following summarizes only problems and needs which are relevant for this project:
- University-enterprise cooperation - a) The lack of effective linkages between knowledge institutions (HE and R&D) and industry; b) Universities find it difficult to attract social partners; c) There is little awareness of the mutual benefits of cooperation with industry; d) Actual cooperation between university and industry takes place mainly with large companies; e) Despite of the fact that Universities consider SMEs to be the most relevant and interested partners, cooperation with them is not so active and long-term.
- Higher education and training for SMEs - a) University are focused on academic knowledge, insufficiently oriented towards professional practice and experience; there is lack of IT skills, entrepreneurial culture and customer focus; b) Employers are generally not involved in the definition of HE programmes; c) The rate at which individuals are engaged in lifelong learning is less then half of the EU25 average; d) State support for small business training is still limited to business startup, management and administration; there is little in-house or own-funded training effort within enterprises; e) Small business training needs analysis does not exist or is based on ‘ad hoc’ surveys only, without systematic collection of data; f) Quality assurance mechanisms for the training sector is significantly underdeveloped; g) The greater part of the region SME sector is unable to participate in training developments, for reasons of accessibility and costs.
- Innovation and competitiveness of enterprises - a) There is a low level of awareness of the concept of innovation and its role in economic growth and competitiveness among general public, policy-makers and many enterprises; b) Cooperation between universities and enterprises is generally at a very low level in terms of technology innovations and transfer; there are few support structures and platforms, and little dissemination of good practice for existing cooperation; c) Main barrier to the provision of services and trainings to enterprises and to more intensive knowledge and technology transfer is lack of finance.