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Data SET: a New Erasmus+ Project to Help Develop Data Skills of Entrepreneurs

As part of its ongoing commitment to the digitalization of the economy, the European Union states that “data-driven business models are the engine of Europe’s growth, industrial transformation and job creation”[1]. The benefits are clear: businesses responding to smart data can improve products and services, thus generating economic growth while contributing to social progress. However, the EU’s work to date has concentrated on large industries and the regulatory environment. Micro and SMEs, which make up 99% of businesses, still lag behind in digital technologies.

If the economy is to flourish, SMEs must develop data skills or risk being noncompetitive. Yet, there is an obstacle: today’s entrepreneurship teachers and trainers also face a data skills deficit. The majority entered the workforce before big data existed and there is currently no reliable source of training to help them boost their own skills. In our survey across 28 Local Enterprise Agencies in the Enterprise NI Network, 52% of business advisers said they were completely unaware of the range of data that is available and 70% rated their own knowledge of smart data as poor.

To address the challenges discussed above, six institutions from Northern Ireland, The UK (East Belfast Enterprise and Canice Consulting Limited), Spain (The University of Alcala), Ireland (Momentum), The Netherlands (UIIN), and Denmark (TEC – Technical Education Copenhagen) have embarked on a journey to improve the ability of entrepreneurship education providers to understand and teach smart data skills via Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership Project Data SET. The project’s kick off meeting was held on 4-5 October, 2018 in Belfast (Northern Ireland). In a nutshell, the project aims to:

  1. To develop and publish a Guide to Data Skills Development to educate entrepreneurship trainers on the current state of data skills and skills building strategies;

2. To create a smart data skills training model, comprising Open Education Resources (OERs) such as curriculum, trainers guide, lesson plans and suggested content and learning exercises

3. To train the first generation of Data SET Trainers (learning activity) and widely disseminate the OERs to encourage rapid integration of the training into current entrepreneurship and business support provision

4. To develop and promote an online Data SET course to maximize access to the new training and reinforce classroom delivery.

With its intellectual outputs and training activities, the project hopes to not only raise awareness of the importance of smart data for entrepreneurship, but provide a solid smart data skills training for current and future entrepreneurs so that they have the best possible chance to grow their businesses.

Stay tuned for more updates on the project!


[1] DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs website: retrieved 3.3.18


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