Small companies, big ideas! When students bring their innovative minds to the table, the possibilities for growth and success are endless. The COM³ partners show how student-based projects benefit not only students who gain new experience, but also companies.

Universities are no longer solely focused on providing higher education. They increasingly focus on equipping their graduates with skills that support their employability, such as creative thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to work in a team. Many universities welcome the opportunity for students to work on ‘real world’ problems, such as those experienced by local businesses. For companies in rural areas with limited business support infrastructure, university students can offer a key source of innovation support.

The University of Lincoln has create a e-learning course that provides guidance on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can participate in student-based projects and accelerate their digital transformation.

There are various types of student-based projects, ranging from challenge-based learning to consultancy projects and project-based placements. In the context of fostering digitalisation, student-based projects could involve developing new digital products or processes, identifying digital trends, or improving the company’s website or social media presence.

Try out the e-learning course:

Student-based projects as a source of digitalisation support

The University of Lincoln

The University of Lincoln has competences in supporting SMEs in their adoption and use of digital technology. These are evidenced through its two digital hubs, and in previous projects which have matched academics with SMEs to test out new business models using digital technology. The university also has a strong track record in evaluating policies to promote the adoption of broadband and digital technology in rural areas.

As part of the COM³ project, the University of Lincoln set up an ambitious pilot project named UoL 4.0 Challenge. The UoL 4.0 Challenge engages local businesses and students to explore opportunities for digitalisation. Teams of students are paired with businesses to explore how digital technology could lead to new commercial ideas and new ways of interacting with customers and suppliers.