A group of 14 organisations – six HEIs and eight organisations from industry - will act as patrons of the network. Each organisation will nominate a senior manager to the Programme Steering Group and also nominate two managers with future potential to be trained in the role of Group Facilitator. This role has been shown by experience to be one that is valued for career development and therefore Facilitators give their time free of charge.

The Facilitators will be trained for the role over five separate days at the beginning of the project. This training will familiarise them with the activities of the relevant KICs a well as the expertise relevant to their small group’s sector within the partnership. The training will also prepare them for a role in moderating discussions where the agenda is mostly set by the participants and all have an opportunity to have their issues heard and discussed, and also to heighten their awareness of the issues which SMEs typically face.    

The benefits to those who take on the role of Group Facilitator will be:

  • Training in how to lead groups in ways that most effectively encourage sharing of views and experiences and win active participation;
  • Learning from the current experiences of a group of companies, the challenges the face and how they meet them, and how they most effectively address their opportunities;
  • Ability to interact with SMEs more generally with greater credibility arising from this experience;
  • A sharpened understanding of the commercial realities in a large part of the economy in different EU member states.