Peer mentoring has been demonstrated by experience to be the key element that keeps companies consistently involved over the period of the programme. For senior managers, the small groups become the place they bring their most serious issues to seek advice and share experience.

On the other hand, the development of a strategic plan pushes the participants to embark on a well-informed journey of growth and expand their horizons. The just in time learning model ensures that they are highly motivated to learn as they will choose the topics of most immediate interest to them in growing their business.

The award of a qualification accredited by a HEI partner for a piece of work they need to undertake anyway for their business will provide them with added confidence in the direction they are following.  Experienced investors will participate in the assessment panels for these awards, lending their plans added credibility when seeking capital.

For the Group Facilitators, the experience of engaging with SMEs in developing growth plans will provide valuable insights into the realities of the challenges facing entrepreneurs and sharpen their own ability to act in an entrepreneurial manner in their own organisations.

Most critically, this model of programme based on just in time learning and award for learning gained on the job will be able to reach large numbers of people for whom engagement with higher education is otherwise not seen as feasible.

Another new development with this proposal is the organisation of this programme on a virtual, cross-European basis. The partners have all had experience of organising learning and events on a virtual basis, so are ready to put this model into place.

The 140 Participants in the programme will be senior managers of SMEs that have been established for at least three years.

Core engagement with the network takes the form of one small group meeting per month, each group having ten participants. Each group will be from multiple member states and most meetings will be virtual. However, physical meetings will also be supported in order to help establish and sustain the relationships.

Each group will be focused on one of four EIT KICs, namely Raw Materials, InnoEnergy, Manufacturing and Digital and include companies in sectors relating to that KIC.