Meeting Smart Specialisation Business Needs through Higher Level Skills (SS-HLS)

This project is focusing on the Digital Economy Smart Specialisation sector. It will see Falmouth University using its extensive education experience to launch six new co-developed short courses focused on digital subjects. These courses will be designed for online delivery.

Front of Creative Bridge Building at Penryn Campus
Logoesf Col Landscape
Logoesf Col Landscape

Project details

Focusing on the Digital Economy Smart Specialisation sector, Falmouth University will use its experience of successfully developing & delivering online short courses (such as the Convergence funded ESF Enterprise project and Falmouth Flexible) to launch six new co-developed short courses focused on digital subjects, designed for online study.

Each course will be approximately six weeks in duration with the primary focus of digitally upskilling the workforce for SMEs through a new non-credit bearing offer specifically tailored to their needs.

Analysis by Amion Consulting on the sector skills study within the Smart Specialisation Framework, identified a number of key issues and recommendations for the supply and demand of skills the C&IoS digital sector, based on analysis of the growth and employment opportunities. 

These included:

  • Preference for delivery of intensive training and online delivery
  • Only a third of all businesses were interested in accredited training
  • A need for employees who can combine high-level creative skills with high level IT skills

Complementing the significant European investment that the C&IoS has benefited from in Superfast Broadband, Falmouth's unaccredited higher level bite sized provision addresses the recommendations provided within the Smart Specialisation Framework by co-developing and delivering provision which blend online learning with peer-to-peer participant learning, leading to transdisciplinary skills development and pedagogical learning for each participating SME, whilst enabling eligible SMEs to engage irrespective of geographical location.

Following consultation with SMEs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, in addition to skills analysis data from Falmouth University's current live PA1 ERDF project (Launchpad), upcoming courses will include:

  • Consumer Behaviour
  • User Experience
  • Coding Bootcamps
  • Digital Marketing
  • User Interface
  • Data Analytics
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Video Production

In line with the newly published Digital Inclusion Strategy for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly 2019 – 2023, Falmouth through the project consortium will work in partnership to offer tailored training answering the specific needs of our region. Falmouth University will identify opportunities and gaps in relevant SMEs and work towards upskilling the identified work force while reducing digital exclusion (at the SME level) by enabling SMEs to aspire or engage further within the Smart Specialisation sector.

Project team

  • Paul Short-Hurst – Project Officer
  • Olivia Toms – External Funding Officer
  • Abbie Smith – Falmouth Flexible Manager
  • Samatha Grady – Head of Product Innovation, Partnerships and Online
  • Timothy Pratt – Production Manager


The programme brings together five educational institutions (Truro & Penwith College, the University of Exeter (Lead Partner), Falmouth University, the University of Plymouth and Cornwall College) to engage with businesses and identify training gaps and course development opportunities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The collaborative project will deliver a co-ordinated employer-led approach to facilitate and expedite greater engagement in higher level skills through the co-development and trialling of innovative new provision, alternative delivery models and high quality work placements.

The smart specialisation theme(s) this project comes under:

  • E-Health and Wellbeing
  • Digital Economy
  • Marine Technology and Renewables
  • Space & Aerospace
  • Agritech


The project is receiving up to £1.72 million of (part) funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information, read the Government guidelines.

Contact us

If you'd like to contact us about the project you can use the details below:

Project Officer: Paul Short-Hurst