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Points of View:

Coaching creates unique learning opportunities

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While many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have become reluctant to receive professional consultancy, they tend to be very receptive to coaching. Openly sharing knowledge and network resources with the company is a central part of the value provided by the coach.



The impact of smE-MPOWER

smE-MPOWER should lead to more SME-driven proposals in European research as motivated SMEs think more strategically about innovation and engage in long-term RTD activities.

The project learned that while many SMEs have become reluctant to receive professional consultancy, they tend to be very receptive to coaching. Openly sharing knowledge and network resources with the company is a central part of the value provided by the coach.

This European consortium of innovation coaches - now called the smE-MPOWER Community - is continuing to provide coaching services after the project. 'Faced with the complexities of international RTD collaborations, SMEs usually need the assistance of professionally equipped, empowered coaches who can speak the SME's language,' adds Reschwamm.

But to become a truly effective system for SMEs, this approach to mentoring needs to be integrated into existing regional support frameworks. 'If it is, it has the potential to empower all the regions towards the goals of the European knowledge economy,' says Reschwamm.

To that end, the smE-MPOWER model has already been adopted by the canton of Fribourg to train up SME coaches in Switzerland.