InnovENT-E: Fostering economic growth by developing innovation and international skills in SMEs

An ambitious co-constructed project

InnovENT-E (Innovation for export-oriented enterprises) is a training program of national scope, initiated by the French government incentive program Investissements d’Avenir (Investments for Tomorrow). The program includes an IDEFI-certified (Initiatives d’Excellence en Formations Innovantes), Excellence-oriented innovative training course.

Jointly founded by the INSA Group (Institut National des Sciences Appliquées), the University of Lorraine, the UT Group (Universities of Technology) and the CESI Group, it aims at fostering innovation and international skills among SMEs and SMIs. A higher education initiative set forth by our academic institutions, it is an outstanding project focused on SMEs and aimed at strengthening their key role in regional economic growth.

Government support

InnovENT-E was launched on October 12, 2012 during a ceremony hosted by Nicole Bricq, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Fleur Pellerin, the Minister in charge of SMEs, Innovation and Digital Economy. The program benefits from governmental support for its commitment to national priorities such as employment, innovation, competitiveness and SMEs/SMIs internationalization and training.

A pooled offer of Innovation/Export-oriented training focused on SME requirements.

A comprehensive and shared training offer for Baccalaureate+2 to Baccalaureate+8 levels, based on a standard skill set co-constructed with companies, the program is available in classrooms or online. Designed for full-time students, professionals and job seekers, the InnovENT-E Excellence project provides new educational methods based on innovation and digitalization, and is centered around learners.

Transforming higher education and business

InnovENT-E bolsters academic transformation and digital migration in higher education and companies. To reach such goals, InnovENT-E relies on inter-school collaboration, the development of community practices, shared resources and tools, and recruiting education-oriented engineers to teach and provide daily support for professors in their needs for transformation and tailoring of academic resources.

InnovENT-E: Key challenges for stakeholders

For SMIs-SMEs:

Only 1 out of 20 SMIs/SMEs exports (only 15% of national revenue), while 1 out of 2 innovative SMIs/SMEs has international presence. Skill development in fields such as innovation and international business appears as one of the major keys to advancement, whether it be by recruiting specialized young graduates or by enabling company’s staff to acquire such knowledge and know-how. It is also an opportunity to build closer ties with higher education institutions, to get to know each other better and anticipate new collaborations. Finally, it is a means to further digital transition.

For the students:

In addition to acquiring specific skills focused on innovation and international growth, the goal is to change the undergraduate student mindset towards SMIs-SMEs, which are too often deemed unattractive regarding future career possibilities, even though they represent 98% of French companies, 50% of the job market, and a wealth of activities that is often poorly recognized.

InnovENT-E offers SME/SMI employees access to continuous training through modules focused on cutting-edge knowledge about international and innovation-oriented topics.

For territories:

SMI/SME local presence ensures territorial dynamics, particularly if companies can access skills to meet their specific requirements. Local implantation also encourages young graduates to remain in locations where they have educated.

For higher education institutions:

Adopting new teaching methods and strengthening close ties with SMEs are key for academic institutions to address 21st-century challenges.

InnovENT-E 2018: creation of InnovENT-E Institute, a partner foundation for sustained contribution to economic growth.

In 2018, InnovENT-E activities are strengthened through the partner foundation (currently being examined by administrative authorities), which aims to promote the development of innovation and international skills within SMEs and SMIs.

The founders are the INSA Group, the CESI Group, TUs, the University of Reims in the Champagne-Ardennes region, the University of Orléans and the University of Valenciennes/Hainaut-Cambrésis..