LEADS Best practices

SME engagement for master programme design – MERIT


Industry collaboration


Private training providers, Public HEI and VET providers


Simona Ramanauskaite, Full professor and senior researcher, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University

  • Master’s degrees and short-term courses in areas, such as AI, cybersecurity and IoT, with the participation of industry across Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Italy and Spain.
  • The programmes is delivered by 4 technical universities, and developed in collaboration with an NGO, two non-profits, a research organisation, a company and SME.
  • Organising an industry-oriented hackathon, where SMEs propose the challenges and mentor the participants.
  • Partnerships between the study programme and SMES for presentations on relevant topics, employee scouting etc.
  • Accurate arrangement of possible SME collaboration cases is compromised by the fact that most study programmes are not yet ongoing.
  • SMEs have limited human and time resources to invest in completing necessary surveys, providing inputs to study programmes and testing various ideas.
  • The study programmes developed have limited flexibility to adapt to the needs of all SMEs as they also need to meet national requirements for accreditation.
Key takeaways
  • Organise introductory meetings for potential collaborators with leading enterprises, to motivate SMEs’ participation.
  • Approach SMEs through personal contacts and/or the EDIHs.
  • Divide the programme development into steps and ask for concrete inputs each time (e.g. course design, course implementation).