Innovation cooperation of UP FM students with the real sector in the framework of AISAB international project
Faculty of Management of the University of Primorska is partner in the international project AISAB in the field of innovation and development. Nine students of postgraduate study programme Management of sustainable development are participating in the project: Mateja Bucaj, Selma Fijuljanin, Petra Hozjan, Korana Kovačević, Klemen Leonard, Anja Nograšek, Valentina Pecchiari, Daria Safronova and Tina Žitko.Project coordinators and mentors are prof. Borut Likar and assist. prof. Peter Štrukelj.
The AISAB Project addresses the need within the EU to improve the level of innovation and its impact, particularly in SMEs. Building on the work of other innovation projects and materials, it develops approaches to develop the skills that support SME innovation from a HEI context and through VET. These complementary streams of work see implementation of initiatives to drive innovation, both during the project and also on a sustainable basis, by embedding the outcomes in the day-to-day activities of HEIs and organisations delivering VET to SMEs. The project objectives are to develop learning materials aimed at enhancing student skills in assessing and implementing innovation, and build tools that students can use to facilitate their impact when consulting in SMEs. It also develops a toolkit for SMEs to self-diagnose their innovation practice, as well as putting in place business intervention approaches that can be used to enhance innovation practices in SMEs. The project is implemented from September 2017 to April 2020.
In the framework of the project, we have already concluded three student innovation consultancy projects at the faculty. In these projects, our students had been visiting reknown Slovenian companies in Primorska region and had consulted them regarding possibilities for improving their business processes. Participating companies were very much satisfied with the results of students' consultanyc work. They stressed the following (potentially) positive effects of this cooperation: higher awareness of present processes, fresh ideas that management will use in the future, identification of appropriate software, better organization of work, smart/rational use of working materials, better understanding of working tasks, less problems with taking responsibility, better communication with employees, better relationships between employees, higher satisfacction and motivation of employees, less fluctuation of employees, better organization culture, better and broader knowledge on how to lead a company, better end services to customers, higher demand for services, higher recognition on the market, reliability of services etc.
Cooperation in the project has also enriched participating students' references - they have acquired valuable practical experiences in improving business processes. At the faculty, we are especially proud at this. Therefore, a very positive feedback from students with respect to project participation as well as mentoring is not surprising at all.
AISAB project (Applied Innovation for Students and Business) is led by British University of Gloucestershire and is part of EU Erasmus + programme (Strategic Partnerships). On one hand, the project represents an enrichment of the postgraduate programme, since it addresses at least three from ten most important skills as they were set out by the World Economic Forum in 2016, i.e. complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. At the same time, the project represents an important step towards higher cooperation between academic sector and real sector which is in line with fundamental goals and strategic orientations of the Medium-term Development Strategy of University of Primorska for the period 2014–2020.
Text: dr. Peter Štrukelj