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H2020

SME VALUE CHAINS Report Summary

Project ID: 671524
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SME VALUE CHAINS (PEER LEARNING OF INNOVATION AGENCIES ABOUT INNOVATION SUPPORT IN SMES IN TRANSNATIONAL BUSINESS VALUE CHAINS)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

As a result of globalisation the production of goods and services is getting increasingly spread over companies and countries. Goods are nowadays processed in many sequential stages at the most suited location for the activity. Multinationals lead the process. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) try to participate as partners, but they face serious challenges to get access to the markets and to add value in these global value chains (GVCs).

On the other hand governments and non-governmental institutions and organisations, inspired by research on the importance of the participation of SMEs in GVCs, are seeking to implement policies and programs intended to support entrepreneurs in this field.

In INNOSUP project H2020 – CSA-LS 671524, three innovation agencies from small regions in the South, the North and the Centre of Europe learned more about SMEs in transnational business value chains or even global value chains, and the support they receive or need. These partners wanted to challenge some of the ‘myths’ surrounding the nature of GVCs and the added value our SMEs can create in them.

At the beginning of the project, the perception prevailed that the multiple types of support offered to the companies of our target group were often misdirected and failed to provide relevant support to the type of businesses aimed for in the project.

At the same time, the existing public support measures were seen to largely neglect the real needs of this category of SMEs. Some of the interviews revealed that indeed part of this critique is true. But, surprisingly or not, in many other cases, SMEs much welcomed the efforts public support makes. Consequently, in addition to providing critical comments on certain public support measures for the innovations and internationalisation of SMEs and how they relate to the participation of these businesses in GVCs, a few suggestions for how regional and EU small business policy can potentially be reconfigured to better support the needs of these firms are presented in the end product of this project, namely the Design Options Paper.

The project aimed to:
1. to discover and learn more about SMEs in cross-border business value chains Europe-wide.
2. to discover the respective existing innovation support approach from the consortium members: how to draw lessons for the future from best practices?
3. to understand the criteria of ‘value chain-fitness’ for existing & future public support instruments.
4. to discuss novel approaches in the public innovation support system in relation to the new insights of the needs of SMEs in transnational business value chains.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The SME Value Chains project consists only of one work package: WP1 Twinning Advanced. The goal of this WP was the following: “a Twinning partnership brings many benefits to the participating organizations by bringing people together from different parts of Europe, it gives an opportunity to share problems, exchange views and understand different viewpoints on any issue where there is a shared interest or concern.”

The first step in the project was the kick-off meeting on 9 September 2015. This meeting was perceived as an “information exchange workshop”. Each partner presented their region, the policy on supporting SMEs active in global value chains and the challenges doing so. During this meeting the context of the project was established, as all partners presented their objectives and expectations on the project. All partners discovered and learned more about SMEs active in global value chains Europe-wide and their needs. This was an important step in the project as by doing so, all partners shared the same insights and mutual knowledge at the starting point. This meeting was hosted by Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Brussels.

On 3 and 4 December 2015 a co-creation workshop was held in Göteborg: Milestone 1. During this workshop more was learned about the context of the challenge by listening to the final beneficiaries of our actions. This workshop started with a presentation from a Flemish and a Swedish expert on the topic of Value Chains. Afterwards two SMEs, a Flemish and a Swedish one, gave a presentation on their experiences and the challenges they faced by being active in global value chains. Finally a brainstorm session took place according the appreciative inquiry technique (focus, dream & creation). Swerea hosted and moderated this co-creation workshop.

On the basis of this workshop, the project partners did a modest field research in their own region about the issue, the goal was to get focussed on the needs and relevant sectors. 24 companies have been interviewed: 7 Swedish, 7 Spanish and 10 Flemish. The Swedish project partners have interviewed producers of goods and services. Most Flemish companies are active in the sectors electronics, machinery, processing, automotive, food, life tech. The Spanish companies are particularly involved in ICT-Tourism, agro-food, construction, robotics and consultancy.

The final peer learning session took place in Palma de Mallorca on 21 and 22 March 2016: Milestone 2. The participants discussed novel approaches in relation. Also during this sessions, SMEs and an external expert (from OECD) have been actively present. All partners participated in this workshop. It was hosted by Fundacio Balears d’Innovació Tecnologia.

The lead partner presented all information gathered on the digital platform of Enterprise Europe Network. All interested parties were encouraged to deal their experiences and comments which have been incorporated in the final report.

In the final stage of this project the lead partner summarised the needs of this specific client profile, the problem about the existing instruments, potential good practices that could fit and novel approaches to explore / to recommend. All partners took part in the drafting and review of the Design Option Paper: Milestone 3. Also the comments from external parties (experts and other agencies outside the partnership were taken into account.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

This project contributed to the increase of the number of innovation agencies engaged in peer learning. During the project interested innovation agencies from other member states or regions were encouraged to comment on the topics and good practices. Their input was gathered by means of the digital platform organised as a community of practice. Given the limited duration of the project the partners decided to use an already existing platform, instead of designing a new one. The forum of the Enterprise Europe Network was used. The network partners were asked to provide their insights. The Design Options Paper, upon approval of the EASME, will be made available to all members of the forum. This paper includes the lessons learned during the lifetime of the project on value chain mapping, criteria for value chain fitness and good practices. It also includes policy recommendations other innovation agencies can apply.

However the goal of the project was not to strive for completeness, since the duration is too limited and the subject too broad. The partners and the external experts consulted delivered a number of ideas for further debate, study and evaluation, as they believe the challenges for their client SMEs deserve this further attention. As all partners involved in the project belong to the Enterprise Europe network, we would like to suggest to set up a dedicated workshop on the project outcome during the 2016 Annual conference of the network in Bratislava.

Related information

Record Number: 190107 / Last updated on: 2016-11-07
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