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According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD (2005), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is independent firms that employ less than a given number of employees. Firms that have up to 250 employees are classified as small and medium enterprises while small firms are those that have up to 50 employees and a firm with 10 employees or less were regarded as micro firms, respectively. A study has shown that SMEs contribute to over 55% of GDP and over 65% of total employment in high income countries; also that SMEs and informal enterprises account for over 60% of GDP and over 70%of total employment in middle income countries, in developed countries 98% or more than belong to the Small and Medium scale sector (OECD, 2004). SMEs are therefore economic catalyst very crucial to national development, poverty alleviation and employment generation.  

Despite all these, SMEs are faced with numerous challenges in Nigeria, amongst which is the lack of research and development support. There is a clear deadweight loss associated with R&D support in favor of large firms. Therefore, collaboration with external parties, like the University of Ibadan will have the advantage of lowering the level of resources input into R&D development by SMEs and increase their internal operational effectiveness and efficiency, while giving the University of Ibadan the opportunity to carry out industry targeted research projects backed by seed funds from the SMEs, as well as provide opportunities for student internships and industry placement for staff. 

In the realization of the centrality of SMEs as drivers of economic growth in Nigeria and to foster cooperative research and development (R&D) support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the first ever, UI-SME Summit held on Thursday, 7th November 2019. Stakeholders at the event included University of Ibadan researchers, representatives of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Banks, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, Industrial Trust Fund, government MDAs and others. Papers presented at the event were: Rationale for UI-SME Summit by Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships), Deploying Internet of Things in Poultry production by Dr. O.O. Olakanmi, Fidelity Bank, SMEs and Higher Education Engagement (Fidelity Bank Plc), The Role of the Bank of Industry in SME and Academia Partnership (Bank of the Industry), SME and University Relationship: Industrial Expectations (Manufacturers Association of Nigeria) and Impact of SIWES on Academia-Industry relationship (Industrial Training Fund). 

Consequent on the successful hosting of the UI-SME summit on 7th November 2019; the Vice Chancellor approved that this translates to an annual Fair, to hold the day after the existing UI Research and Development Fair. This is to ensure a robust interaction between the University Community and SMEs to foster greater town-gown relationship. The summit has therefore evolved to coordinate this collaboration, including the proposed annual UI-SME Fair event.



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