Minutes Kick-off Partnership meeting - Brussels - 27-28/10/2014

Minutes of the Kick-off meeting of the INSIST Project 
Location: Brussels
Organised by MAC-Team aisbl
Final version published: 11/12/2014


MAC-TEAM, Belgium (P5) – host partner

Budapest Business School, Hungary (P1) – coordinator
-Mr. Balázs HEIDRICH
-Mr. Csaba MAKÓ
-Mr. Csaba ILYÉS
-Mr. Péter SOLTÉSZ

AdInvest Development, France (P2)
-Mr. Jacques PONS

Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom (P3)
-Mr. David DEVINS
-Mr. Brian JONES

Cracow University of Economics, Poland (P4)
-Mr. Aleksander SURDEJ

Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists, Hungary (P6)
-Mr. István WIMMER
-Mrs. Gabriella TOMCSIK
-Mrs. Katalin KLAJKÓ

Employers Union of Malopolska Lewiatan, Poland (P7)
-Mrs. Dagmara PILIS


Introduction, Rationale and Key objectives

The self-introduction has confirmed the fact the partnership is composed of members of quality and with rich experience in the subjects of the project and revealed also that beyond the known and sited cooperation among the members some partners have more, long date joint experience the project can make use of.  

On behalf of the promoter institution Budapest Business School (BBS) the dean of the Faculty of Finance and Accountability, Mr Heidrich delivered his introductory speech delineating the genesis and the rationale of the project. He mentioned how the multi-directional input from research people and also from several members of the present consortium gave birth to the proposal. He also presented how the project integrates itself into a long line of European and bilateral projects of the faculty and also into the main policy line of the faculty. The vivid reactions of the partners confirmed their interest in the proposal.

On behalf of the project’s proposal writers and coordinators Mr Soltész reported to the kick-off meeting about the preparatory activities carried out before the meeting. He made it clear that in this case there is no need to lecture on the project since obviously all partners have studied it, some of them even contributed to the proposal writing. He referred to point E, of the project and reported on all the planned preparatory activities. He also emphasised that in the new Erasmus+ programme preparatory activities are more demanded and also monitored by the Erasmus offices.

  1. For each WP (management, financing, research, the 4 teaching modules, quality assurance and dissemination) a digital sub-group was created where the partners nominated their representatives. To each working group a leader was nominated with the agreements of the partners.
  2. A site was created on CooSpace (BBS’s platform) and a large amount of articles and other research material uploaded.
  3. The leader of the research package was asked to draw up a research plan and, after having harmonised it with the sub-group members, present it to the kick-off meeting for approval.  (Done)
  4. The leaders of the four module development sub-groups were asked to produce a first version of their modules’ content and present it to the kick-off meeting. (Done)
  5. The new financial rules were picked up by the coordinators at the Hungarian Erasmus Office.
  6. The draft of the bilateral agreements between BBS and partners were elaborated and circulated.
  7. The partner in charge of Quality Assurance was asked to prepare a QA and a risk management plan and present it to the kick-off. (Done)
  8. The partner in charge of dissemination was asked to prepare a dissemination pre-plan and forward it to the kick-off. (Done)
  9. The coordinator produced an Organigram for the implementation
  10. A revised timing with modifications was prepared for the meeting.

The coordinator presented details of the implementation issues especially where decisions of the Steering Committee were needed and/or modifications were proposed by the coordinator.   By and large the work plan, the time table, the task distribution and the proposed budget were accepted by the evaluators, so there was no need to re-negotiate it as a whole at the kick-off meeting.  Particular cases were:

  1. The coordinator made it clear that the Steering Committee, working on unanimity basis, is the main decision making body of the project. The chair of the SC is the dean of BBS. The coordinator is answerable to the dean; the dean is answerable to the Erasmus Office. In case of missing unanimity in the SC the decision making goes back to the Erasmus Office.
  2. The harmonisation between research and curriculum development needed to be revised:  according to the original time table the first results of the research module (national literature reviews) are to be delivered the 31.01.2015 and the curriculum development starts the 01.02.2015. The very rich research material discovered during preparation makes it possible to start the curriculum development from the date of the kick-off meeting and the diverse outcomes of the research package can be integrated step by step later. This is even more justified by the fact that the membership in the research group and those of the teaching modules are largely overlapping facilitating the continuous cooperation.  This modification of the time table was accepted. A connecting modification was also forwarded to the meeting by the coordinator:  the second international project meeting was programmed to be organised in France. The French partner does not participate in the research activities and the second meeting is supposed to concentrate the first outcome proposing activities: research. So the second meeting is proposed to be organised in Leeds, UK and the third in France. Accepted.
  3. The coordinator stressed that in the new Erasmus programme there is no general obligation to contribute to the budget. Some hidden or explicit exceptions however exist. (see later)
  4. The official start date of the project implementation is fixed at the 1st of September. To make it possible the detailed preparatory activities can be helpful. Nevertheless, a possibility to gain authorisation for a 3- or 6-month extension is open.
  5. Budget arrival: the first stake (40%) arrives two weeks after the contract between the Erasmus office and BBS has been signed. The second stake will be transferred immediately after the submission of the mid-time report and regardless of the acceptance of the report. The submission deadline for the mid-time report is the 30 June 2015 and the time span to be covered by this report is from the 1 September 2014 to 30 April 2015, which is new regulation. The third (final) transfer will be carried out, as it used to be, after the acceptance of the final report.
  6. The management costs are fixed as a lump/month and there is no need of whatever accounting.
  7. The budget for the planned mobilities is, in general cases, insufficient. Two solutions were proposed by the coordinator: either the amount of 575€ can be supplemented out of the management costs or the partner institution supplements the amount from its budget. One piece of justification of presence signed by the host institution is needed. Tickets, bills… are to be held by the partners and will be collected only in case of “emergency” control.
  8. Budget for the Intellectual outputs: no pay slips, no special accountancy are needed. What is needed is a document showing the legal relationship between the partner institution and the expert to be paid and the usual time sheets. The limitation of the workplace income/day is not in vigour anymore.
  9. Multiplier events: In most cases they are joint to the project meetings. A lump sum is given by the project’s budget by invited persons: 100€ by home guests and 200€ by foreigners.
  10. The available budget for the pilot trainings is similar: 100€/participant.
  11. Exceptional costs are available with a 25% obligatory co-financing. Translations: 8000€/partner, printing and publishing: 2000€/partner, participation in EU-organised conferences: 1500€/partner + 25%. Here bills, tickets are to be submitted to the coordinator.
  12. The currency rate(s) to be considered by the non-Euro countries is the day of the transfer arrival to BBS’s account.


Presentations of the main thematic work packages:

  1. Research package

The research package aimed to describe and assess the national contexts of the succession process in the family business (using the methodology of the national literature review and carrying out field work i.e. company case studies on the “best practice” of the transformation process. In addition, the WP3 contains a comparative analysis of the countries participating in the Insist project (Hungary, Poland, UK and Italy) and elaborating a recommendation report for the policy makers/stakeholders at different level society.

The WP3 related tasks are presented in detail by the presentation of Csaba Makó at the kick-off meeting of INSIST project held in 27th – 28th October 2014. Brussels.

  1. Harmonisation of the teaching modules’ structure

An initial intention of the promoter institution was to produce the 4 modules, each for two target groups, in a certain harmonised form which applies to volume, level, content breakdown, knowledge transmission methods, use of support documents, and evaluation of pilot trainings. The module development leaders were asked before the kick off meeting to start the conceptualisation of their modules and think about harmonisation. As a result the British partner, as leader of strategic module No 1, produced a Module Approval Template for the kick-off (see Attachments) and the other module leaders were asked to study it and give their reaction to this proposal. In situ, the leaders of the modules No 3 and 4 found, at the first glance, the proposal acceptable while the leader of module No 2, having a special content to develop, asked for time to elaborate his stance. Decision was taken that the digital sub-group composed of the module leaders continue the work on harmonisation.

  1. Strategic module

Brian Jones and Dave Devins outlined a number of issues related to the development of the Strategy module. The presentation began by reflecting on the rationale for the INSIST project. The intended benefits to be developed out of the INSIST project included: 1] working together and learning from one another; 2] making a difference (having impact) on SME survival through better and more informed succession planning; 3] engaging SMEs in formal training, development and education which is something they are not always good at; 4] learning from SMEs and thereby inform training and education practice, knowledge and insight; 5] engaging in cross country research and development. Brief information on the UK Quality Code for Higher Education was then provided to set the context within which UK Higher Education providers operate. The module approval process at Leeds Beckett University was explained and an early stage indicative Module Approval Template was given to partners/participants for illustrative and discussion purposes. Options for professional accreditation were considered and after some discussion it was agreed that accreditation with the Institute for Leadership (ILM) was an action point to be taken forward when developing the module(s). Issues related to module content (for example, strategy, foresight/future studies), pedagogy (including formal lectures, work based learning, workshops, Virtual Learning Environment delivery) and assessment (possibly a work based learning report/log/diary and a strategic plan) were presented and discussed. It was suggested that the Strategy module should be underpinned by theory and should be informed by practice so that it has ’real world’ relevance. The INSIST Project Cycle was presented and the importance of dissemination was discussed. Examples of indicative reading were provided and included books, journal article and newspapers. The overall conclusion drawn was that the module should ideally be theoretically informed and practice focused so as to ensure academic rigour and ’real world’ relevance.

  1. Mentoring module

The definition of the Mentor was discussed for a better common understanding by all partners. The definition of the Mentors for INSIST Project accepted by partners is now the following: The mentor is a consultant who is able to develop a close relation with SMEs owners to support them in facing daily issues and in developing a better vision of the future for their enterprises to prepare sustainable transmissions with relevant business opportunities.

The Courses will have to help students/trainees to identify, develop and improve the relevant skills needed to practice the Mentor Work. The general aspects of SMEs constraints developed on finance, business strategy and development in the other modules will be used through cross-sharing team works on business cases. The Students/Trainees will be able to evaluate their own ability of mentoring in managing interrelation and empathy. The trainees will be assessed on the global key knowledge and the soft skills required to develop a trusty relation with the SMEs owner.

It was decided the material to be designed may be used for MsC courses and Vocational Learning for practitioners.

The courses will be developed for this 2 target groups : Master Course Students and Practitioners/Mentors

Cooperation with the other modules’ leaders will define the structure and the pedagogical methods of the teaching material in order to produce and use cases related with material used in the other courses.

  1. Financial and legal module

Mr Ilyés summarized shortly the content of this module. Everybody agreed that the subject of the module could be organized into different level task system which allows various kind of the training orientated for the student knowledge level, MSc-MA students, outgoing and entering entrepreneurs.

He talked about the future goals of this module. He suggested a basic timetable for the tasks.

All members agreed that the final material has to be two main parts: first, the common part is more or less valid for all member country and the second, country specific part shows the specific features of the member countries.

  1. Social and cultural module

The discussion of this module, based on presentation by Prof Surdej – the leader of this module, turned around differentiating general socio-cultural issues that determines entrepreneurship and the growth of private firms and particularity of family firms. In has been agreed that the influence of family has dynamic characters, that is, it is being evidenced over longer periods, at the crucial junctures in the development of firm and in particular at the moment of the succession of ownership and management.

All present have agreed that the academic insights derived from variable oriented research on entrepreneurship and family business should be complemented by contextual information and cases (stories) that exemplify the principal social and cultural factors.  It is thus needed that the universal context of the module (together with the choice of readings) will be complemented by national literature and local cases.

  1. Evaluation of the project
  • Evaluation of the project will support the project as in the Organigram (slide 2) presented earlier by Peter Soltész, with a special focus on the piloting of the 4 modules.
  • The evaluation results are presented at each of the partnership meetings to reflect:
    • The level of activity on the project
    • The level of the produced results and possible outcomes.
    • MAC-Team will not define contingency plan as such when deviations are noticed; but it will present possible path for mitigation [of which the content of the corresponding contingency plan has to be provided in detail by the concerned task/team leader(s)]. (slide 4).
  • As a first evaluation, the target groups need to be better reflected in the project as 2 main ones have been defined (SME owners/managers and Master students). The Mentors group has also to be more precisely defined in the various activities and outcomes of the INSIST project (slide 5 and slide 7).
  • The corresponding indicators have to be defined. In addition to the basic and a few ones indicated in the proposal, it is needed to go for indicators and measurement criteria which will be beneficial to the project and to the beneficiaries and stakeholders of the project (slide 6). A special focus will be developed on:
    • The reflective journals: more for Mentors (and as well for Students). It is also proposed to see how it can contribute to a quality assurance tool on the mentoring activity (internal to the SME or external) so that the outcome of the mentoring action would be similar whoever the mentor (by also encouraging/facilitating the benchmark of reflective journals for instance).
    • Some links on reflective journals (to be enriched as well by our UK partners):
    • Open badges: for all stakeholders, but with a specific interest for entrepreneurs, SME owners/managers and employees. Indeed, the badges approach gives the opportunity to take stock of all elementary steps, actions, learning skills/outcomes that individuals achieve over the activities and events. This stocktaking is also worth for SME owners/managers/employees in case business is not developing as expected and leads to closing-downs or to job reduction. In that case, it helps individuals with validating or illustrating learning experience and outcomes (possibly formal ones, but more importantly informal and non-formal ones).
      In addition for the INSIST project, Open Badges can be used as a monitoring tool on the level of activity of the project by measuring the number of types of badges and the number of delivered badges.
      The Open Badges also more easily supports soft skills and “soft” Learning Outcomes compared to an ECVET approach. It can be faster and more easily implemented compared to an ECVET timeline. It can also be used as “drafting” tool (via the very elementary units possibility of the Open Badges) of more complex and structured steps involved by an ECVET approach.
  • Comments on slide 8: the evaluation / quality assessment of pilot trainings will not require the attendance of MAC-Team (as most of the pilot training will be delivered without interpretation into English). On-line questionnaires will be developed to collect and monitor feedback of participants and beneficiaries (implemented by MAC-Team on the INSIST website with the support of the partners for the content of the questionnaire, for the linguistic version and for the analysis of the corresponding information by the local partners).
  • Slide 9: the other dissemination channels and objectives need to be better defined soon to ensure a proper monitoring of the objectives. Dissemination should not remain only “institutional”, but need to be presented with a field exploitation objective (practical dissemination and reach of SMEs, SME stakeholders and SME environment/networks).
  • Slide 10: The quality assurance on the INSIST project must remain light in terms of workload and has to be practical. MAC-Team proposes to use a monitoring dashboard with a “traffic light” as it already implemented in other projects (example of the WikiNomics dashboard). The dashboard is presenting the running timeslot and keeps tracks of previous periods. This dashboard will be shared as a Google Drive document to enable each partner updating it simultaneously. MAC-Team will propose an initial skeleton for the tasks to be monitored on the dashboard (based on the proposal and based on the results of the kick-off meeting). Each WP Leader and task responsible will be in charge of reporting the status of his/her activity. This will be used to monitor and report (alert) to the steering committee jointly with the information coming from the supplementary indicators when relevant.
  1. Dissemination and exploitation

In his presentation Prof Aleksander Surdej – the leader of the dissemination activities reviewed the project proposal to evidence the dissemination activities to which the project is committed. He found that the list of activities comprised in the project proposal including: a project brochure (general information about the project); final publication; a single website with pages in national languages or multiplier events (workshops, final conference, pilot trainings) creates a comprehensive package. He has stressed the need to coordinate the activities at the project level and action undertook by project partners at international and national level. He has asked the partners to inform about such activities, especially if they might lead to overlaps in the diffusion of information or informational confusion. In the discussion project partners have agreed that the dissemination should gain the momentum with time passing and advances in the preparation of materials. It is thus appropriate to revise (update) dissemination plan on the occasion of next project meetings.

General remarks  

The issue of the pilot courses generated a vivacious discussion.

For the pilot trainings to be delivered for a MSc level student population concerns are raised by the possible timing of the trainings: the modules are expected to be credit bearing specialisation modules attached each to a certain module of the general Master training. This implies that the specialisation module must not precede the general one. Those partners who are supposed to deliver pilots for the students (UK, PL, HU) were asked to see after the possible course integration. In the worst case when the time span of the delivery of the general modules oversteps the time limits of the project, emergency solution is needed. One is the demand for extension of the project implementation. Another is a partial delivery of the developed modules for the students during the lifetime of the project and supplementing the partial delivery after it.

For the pilot trainings for entrepreneurs the Hungarian partner proposed a scheme of the adult training which is still to be accepted by the partners who are expected to carry out pilot trainings for the entrepreneurs (FR, PL). The suggested scheme is composed of a 3-day full time training, 5-day individual learning and 1-day examination.  This is to be refined and adapted by the partners in due course. The debate is still open thanks to the late timing of the pilot trainings.

Comments of the Hungarian Erasmus office, reactions and additional tasks.

The general remark is that most of the comments of the Erasmus office concern issues already touched upon during the preparatory period before kick-off. So these issues have already been tackled in the preceding parts of these minutes. Remaining points:

  1. A major concern of the Erasmus office is that the feature of the generational transition may be tarnished, if not disappeared, and traditional entrepreneurial stuff will be filled in the modules’ content.  Our reaction was that during proposal writing and also the preparatory pre-kick-off period a large amount of articles and other research material have been studied and already built in the proposal. These materials are strictly focused on transitional issues as it is the case in the already started work of the research sub-group. But still, the partner in charge of QA and also the coordinators will follow the development and signalise deviations to the Steering Committee in time.
  2. The comments repeatedly mention the necessity to precise the target groups and also the selection methods for the pilot trainings and also after the lifetime of the project. In our reaction we pointed out that preliminary studies suggest the rough differentiation of the two selected target groups as a first approach. Nevertheless we admit that more differentiation would be helpful for efficiency but we also stress that the implied supplementary burden in research, content development and piloting would not be feasible within the budgetary limitations of the project. The issue can be one of the objectives to be set by a follow up project.
  3. The comments raise the question about methodology, the non-précised knowledge transmission methods. In the answer we emphasised that the project doesn’t want to be innovative in the field of knowledge transmission for several reasons: it would go beyond the financial scope of the project and also the entrepreneurs before retirement need – at least in the new member countries and with some obvious exceptions (owners of IT SMEs…) – simple, traditional teaching methods. To go towards more sophisticated, e.g. e-learning methods can be a subject of new projects.
  4. Concerning the work plan a question is asked by the evaluators on dissemination and multiplying events: what is the contingency plan in case of delays occur in content development or if there are no sufficient students or entrepreneurs interested in registering into pilot trainings? Our reaction was: Continuous monitoring by Partner 5 and the coordinators will register delays and keeps the SC informed. This will take decisions on adjustment of timing of the dissemination meeting in question. The same goes for the pilot trainings; however, with the experienced partners the in-time recruitment of the limited number of pilot learners is foreseeable.  Two examples show already how the emergency plan is working: the already mentioned change of the 2nd and 3rd meeting is the follow-up of the coordinators remark while the modification of the first dissemination meeting (to organise it in a more extended time span), judged too early by the evaluators also, is the consequence of the emergency call of Partner 5, charged by QA.
  5. The evaluator raises concerns about the adaptation phase of the curriculum development.  It is stated that that this can be late since it starts when the comparative study is ready.  Our answer emphasises that the basic idea for the development procedure is to prepare a common part of the content for each module, then add national particularities and finally, for the student target group add a comparative element derived from the comparative study. The module leaders have already been asked to draw up a time table each for the development and harmonise these tables. BBS nominated a so-called “pedagogical responsible person” who is in charge – together with Partner 5 – of controlling the content development procedure and in case of deviation draw the process back on track.
  6. Concerning evaluation the comments draw the attention to the necessity of the elaboration of detailed evaluation criteria and measuring methods. The comments suggest that it must be a precondition of the acceptance of the Quality Assurance Handbook planned in the project. We agree. (see: presentation of the QA plan)

Next meeting

As agreed during the meeting the next, 2nd project meeting will take place in Leeds, UK and will be focused primarily on the research element. As for the dates the host partner will check the availabilities in Leeds Beckett University and propose concrete dates in the period end of April – beginning of May.

Follow-up - ToDo list

Task Connecting Intellectual Output Deadline Responsible
Partner agreements and transfer of the first pre-financing payment WP1 – n.a. 30 December 2014 BBS – project management
Annexes to the partner agreements – financial regulations, templates to the reporting WP1 – n.a. 30 January 2015 BBS – project management
Quality management guideline – Dashboard – Monitoring plan WP2 – n.a. 30 December 2014 MAC-Team
Quality control milestone – at/for the 2nd meeting WP2 – n.a. 20 April 2015 MAC-Team
First dissemination material – brochure/flyer (first in English, later in the other 3 languages) WP5 – n.a. 30 January 2015 BBS, AdInvest, CUE, LBU – led by CUE
Research guidelines – national reports, case studies, comparative report WP3 – O1 (A1)

30 December 2014 (draft)
30 January 2015 (final)

led by BBS – research team
Desktop analysis, national reports WP3 – O1 (A2)

15 March 2015 (draft)
30 March 2015 (final)

BBS, CUE, LBU – led by BBS research team
Company case studies – for the 2nd meeting WP3 – O1 (A3)

30 March 2015 (draft)
20 April 2015 (final)

BBS-MGYOSZ, CUE-MZPL, LBU – led by BBS research team
Collecting resources, materials, analysing and preparation (Collection of the inputs / raw material and Format by the leading partner on the way partners have to provide feedback) WP – O3/O4/O5/O6 (A1) 28 February 2015 LBU, AdInvest, BBS and CUE led by module leaders
Feedback by each involved partner on the raw material WP4 – O3/O4/O5/O6 (A1) 15 March 2015 LBU, AdInvest, BBS and CUE led by module leaders
Draft synthesis of the module by the leading partner – Guideline for the module development WP4 – O3/O4/O5/O6 (A1) 30 March 2015 LBU, AdInvest, BBS and CUE led by module leaders
Validation and double check of the data by the involved partners WP4– O3/O4/O5/O6 (A1) 15 April 2015 LBU, AdInvest, BBS and CUE led by module leaders
Finalisation of the basis material for the curriculum development by the leading partner – for the 2nd meeting (using the results of the research activities as well) WP4 – O3/O4/O5/O6 (A1) 20 April 2015 LBU, AdInvest, BBS and CUE led by module leaders
Agenda for the Leeds partner meeting WP1 – n.a.

30 March 2015 (draft)
10 April 2015 (final)

LBU helped by BBS – project management
Leeds partner meeting WP1 – n.a. 20-21 April 2015 LBU helped by BBS – project management
Leeds multiplier event WP5 – n.a. 22 April 2015 LBU
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