Grasping innovation in Europe through a closer interaction between HEIs and SMEs

Gienah Cygni is a star in the constellation Cygnus. Its name comes from the Arabic جناح janāħ, which means WING.

GIENAHS project aims at strengthening and synchronizing HEIs and SMEs interaction to support the “takeoff and flight” of young, creative, high potential and skilled researchers equipped with “sturdy wings” for a new Vision:
make them a driving force for brightening up industrial research in competitive European SMEs.

GIENAHS’ Mission: design a common route to launch young industrial researchers in SMEs’ innovation Universe




The private business sector is constituted mainly by Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), ranging from single-owner to 250 employees. Although the SMEs are the real driving force of the European economy, they are still facing considerable difficulties in managing R&D processes. Providing an updated Map of SME’ innovation needs can help to better define how to train industrial researchers able to manage SME’ R&D process in a more effective way. A more dynamic interaction between them and HEIs and the direct participation of SMEs in training and educational processes are the first steps to overcome the encountered obstacles

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HEIs are the training entities. They prepare the R&D skills and competences for the economic sector. Nevertheless, HEIs do not yet detect efficiently the SMEs needs that still suffer low competitiveness. Training of many more researchers with SME’ oriented skills is demanded by the academic world. New working methodology for designing employability and innovation managerial skills for SMEs is foreseen in GIENAHs. The PhD training path jointly designed (HEIS+SMEs) can provide the right competences that surely impact the SME’s growth process.  

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Researchers & Professionals​

Research students and professionals operating within SMEs are also directly impacted by GIENAHS project. They can improve their horizontal skills and competences that make them available to address the mutual change of labour market, through the Industrial PhD path, SMEs oriented, that GIENAHS will provide. A high quality path that will lead high placement capacity is expected thus direct participation of young professionals is advisable.

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Europe &
International level

Even not directly involved in the project, another target group is represented by public institutions and industrial clusters at EU and national level. The new Industrial PhD path for SMEs will be supported by the local public institution (Ministers, Regions, Provinces, etc.) at national/local level that will use it as a new innovative tool able to provide high-performer researchers, more qualified, market oriented and more ready to innovate. But also at European level the impact will be ensured by the new  model of EU industrial Ph.D. curriculum SME oriented that GIENAHS will provide. A new model as a best practices to replicate at EU level will be ensured and a proposal for the harmonization of disciplines in the field of EU industrial Ph.D. will surely impact positively EU institutions.

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Our Aim

GIENAHS intends to take up the challenge of contributing to the growth of innovation culture in European SMEs by developing a modern and common European standard for interaction HEIs and SMEs; by fostering a stronger collaboration between HEIs and SMEs through a new methodological approach, where HEIs with SMEs will design industrial PhD paths. It will specifically focus on the key aspects that support innovation in SMEs, will concretely align researchers’ training in higher education based on SMEs’ specific needs and requirements. The new approach will be tested through the joint design of a first industrial PhD path for SMEs (will guarantee the related procedure for Pan-European recognition), along with a proposal of harmonization of Industrial PhD disciplines in Europe, to concretely promote the mobility of researchers.

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