LEADS Best practices

SME engagement for master programme design – CyberSecPro


Industry collaboration


Private training providers, Public HEI and VET providers


Kotty Kioskli, CEO & Cofounder, Trustilio

  • Enhancing the role of HEIs in preparing new workforce generations and upskilling the existing workforce to address complex cybersecurity challenges, including threats from advanced AI.
  • Provision of hands-on academic offering to bridge the gap between formal education, real-world job requirements, and marketable cybersecurity skills.
  • Co-creation of cybersecurity master’s curriculum in collaboration with SMEs to integrate industry demands and real-world business scenarios.
  • Establishing joint R&D initiatives between HEIs and SMEs to foster innovation, where academic research is aligned with the technological and market needs of the SMEs, leading to shared benefits in knowledge creation and application.”
  • SMEs limited by their capacities (Budget, personnel, time), preventing ability for long-term collaboration.
  • As training programmes include cross-institutional education across different countries in their offering, it is a challenge to tailor the programme to the individual needs of the SMEs in the respective areas. This makes it also more difficult to scale, for example in comparison to an American programme operating in one market.
  • Maintaining consistent engagement from SMEs through the course of programme in the face of fluctuating market conditions or business priorities.
Key takeaways
  • Implement engagement models that allow SMEs to contribute to varying levels of involvement, accommodating their resource constraints. Less rigid structures and more flexibility can facilitate engagement on the needs and availability of SMEs.
  • Develop a customisable, tailored curriculum that aligns with the needs of SMEs, ensuring that training is both relevant and applicable to them.
  • Establish regular check-ins and feedback loops, to keep SMEs consistently involved and responsive to the evolving demands of the training programmes.