The Innovative Trainer Programme (ITP) which has been funded with support from the European Commission will increase the capacity of Business Trainers and Mentors (BTMs) to support SMEs throughout Europe by developing a “Train the Trainer” blended learning training resource on non-technological innovation. By updating their skills, BTMs will be better placed to provide guidance on how to innovate to small businesses, better adapting their services to changing business beneficiary groups & sectors and ultimately improving the innovation performance and growth of the enterprises they serve. The justification for the project is clear: SMEs are crucial to Europe’s future prosperity and are essential in attaining the goal of “a sustainable economy based on knowledge and innovation”. Alongside improving the institutional framework for business, BTMs are Europe’s key players in developing innovation and growth within SMEs, and do so via range of public and private bodies.
However, this project is based on the premise that while good BTM practice exists, their potential ability to notably impact on SME performance is not being fully exploited. There is a lack of awareness on the important role of BTMs, not just as business experts, but as business educators. ITP therefore seeks to increase the contribution of BTMs as change agents who facilitate the uptake of innovation & growth within their SME clients. Firstly, the project will raise the quality of training available to them, by carrying out a Baseline Audit then developing an innovative training resource which blends classroom based real life learning & interaction, with online course content. The training goal is not only to teach the knowledge they require to provide expert, personalized assistance, but to improve their performance as mentors & teachers. This in turn will have a significant impact of the survival & growth rates of the start-up and early stage businesses they work with.
ITP’s strength lies in the way in which the innovation of the existing resources will be combined the experience of 8 project partners, including Representative Bodies, Innovation Specialists & dedicated VET organizations, from 6 countries. All of the partners have collaborated previously on training initiatives and have specific VET expertise.