With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union, a project team consisting of a Higher Education Foundation, a University, four companies specialized in consultancy, training and research and an European Network of Education, Innovation and Development of New Technologies, led by the Fundación General Universidad de Granada Empresa, is developing the project i-Skills – Fostering Innovation Skills as Key Competences for improving Employability of PhDs in SMEs, from January 2014 to June 2016.
Countries have long recognized that the education and skills of the labour force are the underpinnings of innovation. Generally, innovation skills can be defined as the set of abilities, proficiencies, competences or attributes that contribute to the implementation, transference and management of new products, processes, marketing methods, or organizational methods in the workplace (OECD, 2011).
SMEs play a key-role in most economies, in that they constitute the largest business block and provide the bulk of employment. The recruitment of PhD students and doctoral holders by SMEs is a key mechanism of knowledge and innovation transfer from academia to society that needs to be fostered. The current economic crisis in most European countries (that is especially affecting to the public sector finances) is reducing the capacity of absorption of PhDs and researchers by Universities and the academic context in general. SMEs can contribute to prevent that these high qualified human resources are wasted at the same time that improve their competiveness in the global economy.