ABSTRACT Centre CID at the University of Girona is an active design projects and research centre closely linked with Catalan industry. This paper details some of the SME collaborations in which the centre has been involved since its inception in 1992. Best practice to overcome barriers common to collaboration is presented to­ gether with the effects of projects on research and education. The possibility of a strategic partnership should be investigated, particularly in light of the SME service gap - SMEs have knowledge needs that cannot be satisfied completely by government and in which private sector consultants are rarely interested. Awareness should be heightened regarding the breadth of interaction mechanisms, from student projects to contracted design services.