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TRANSINNOV Report Summary

Project ID: 671522
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRANSINNOV (Peer learning on ways to improve knowledge/technology transfer to SMEs in a structured innovation ecosystem)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Researchers, coming from universities, laboratories or research centres, identify, prototype, adjust or develop technical or technological solutions in industrial value chains, sectors, specific or specialized topics.
At the same time, companies (SME, industries, …) identify technical, technological or organizational problems to overcome on the pathway of enhancing or directly putting on the market a new product, such as a good, a service or a solution. Let’s notice that identification and clarification of stakes linked to them are not necessarily obvious to formulate in order to search for a solution.
Two worlds, researchers and enterprises, that should in principle meet to mutually feed each other but that, too often, fail to do so due to a lack of opportunities for collaboration… Two worlds that, however, don’t necessarily have the opportunity to cross or meet.
The connection between researchers and entrepreneurs constitute therefore an important issue for regional innovation ecosystems.

The strategic objective of TRANSINNOV is to better structure and drive innovation ecosystems based on knowledge and technology that would lead to all types of innovation into SMEs.

The operational objectives are:
• Identification, in a limited set of European regions, of practices, experiences, pilot projects set up in order to enhance/amplify collaborations, networks and more widely spoken ecosystems of knowledge/technology transfer
• Sharing of these experiences and identification of enabling or blocking factors in order to design and implement better practices within participating agencies
• Dissemination and implementation of the results as widely as possible to start a learning process at the European level with a focus on knowledge transfer between more advanced region to other ones
In the project, the terms knowledge/technology are used thereby recognizing the role of knowledge as a whole (including humanities for example) in innovation such as services innovation or social innovation.

In the framework of TRANSINNOV, 4 European partners – 4 French, Bulgarian, Italian and Belgian (AEI) public agencies – that all target innovation and entrepreneurship support – have identified the same difficulties and the same stakes around this question. These same partners have co-designed an innovative methodology to facilitate the meeting of enterprises and researchers in sectors, chains, topics formerly identified. This methodological process is developed in a “workshop” format that we will call “Meeting in the technology cloud”.
The European project aims at designing (co-creation) and testing the methodology (prototyping) for the Meeting in the technology cloud (choosing thematic, interest participants, animate, … the workshop). After the test-phase that will be implemented by several innovation agencies involved in TRANSINNOV, in the context of their roles, missions, ecosystem and landscape (institutional, entrepreneurial, …), the methodology will be adjusted and then validated by the European project partners.
The process and the methodology, that will be proven and recognized at European level, present an obvious interest, on one side, for enterprise and research actors and, on the other side, for support organization, that will have an oriented animation/accompaniment/connection tool in the “users and technological solutions” perspective.

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

"** Setting up **
First step of the project was to share views about most challenging aspects observed through the partners (Innovation Agencies) activities in their eco-system and according to regional policies.

Then, we defined and followed collectively a methodology to narrow down the target of the DOP. The TRANSINNOV proposal was indeed very open about the kind of instrument/systems the consortium could design.

As Innovation Agencies, we have decided to target a device/system to
• increase the chances that a second meeting takes place quickly after the first one, should some kind of interest be shown about a technology/knowledge/competence (or to keep minimal relations alive);
• ensure the availability of more resources (human, financial, network, ...) in the immediate surrounding of people meeting and building an opportunity (with SME’s conditions in mind);
• bridge the gap between research and industries by giving them tools to build common languages and better understanding of mutual expectations (with SME’s conditions in mind)

The partners selected and described regional initiatives they had implemented with success and that could both bring some peer-learning and contribute to a common realisation of the consortium.

** Co-Creation **
The consortium had a first face-to-face meeting in December 2015 :
• reviewing most interesting initiatives by each Innovation Agency regarding to the common vision and objectives
• sharing and clarifying levers and brakes in regional ecosystem
• deciding to work on an innovative workshop format
• filling together two Lean Canvas, one for researchers “customer” segment and one for SME’s “customer” segment since that can participate the same workshop with different vision of what problem, solution, unique value proposition are
• taking some time to open their mind to these details they could think of from personal experiences to give the little kick that makes great success (relations, fun, emotions, ...)
• Designing the format of an innovative workshop

The workshop was intended to researchers and entrepreneurs who wishes to
(1) test (technological) opportunities to develop their activity and
(2) identify resources (competencies, suppliers, partners) to implement them,
in a transdisciplinary group lining-up entrepreneurs, researchers and innovation support actors.

It is worth mentioning this process was accompanied by a consultant with strong experience in lean start-ups coaching and agile management.

** Maturation and experimentation **
From January to April, partners have refined and adapted the workshop design set to their situation and regional eco-system.
The general methodology was defined, but it had to be completed with animation methodologies. Design thinking had a great influence in this part of the process.

It was also quite important during this phase to engage local partners in the project both for their feedback about the workshop design and for their implication.
Indeed, the workshop design cannot be implemented without a large contribution of the innovation eco-system.

For experimentation, two partners, ASTER and ARC fund went for a survey to probe the interest and collect data to fine tune this kind of methodology for the different “customer segments” (SMEs, GEs, start-ups, techno poles, research centres, universities, ...). The two other partners, AEI and BDI, went for running a first prototype run of the workshop. They all received much attention and very encouraging feedback.

Strong insights came during this period, including the name SPARK for Scan-Plan-Act Revolutionary Kit in replacement of "Meeting in Technology Cloud". It is a reference to the general process of the workshop (3 sequences: SCAN – PLAN – ACT), to the feedback from inside agencies and ecosystem pointing the novelty and revolution in the approach and finally to the set of tools to be demonstrated and transferred to the participants of the workshop.

** Consolidation and learnings **
The consortium gathered in face-to-face meeting for the second time in April 2016.
During this meeting, experience and regional learning were shared. Then we moved forward to common learnings, improvements and future projects.
This second workshop was also retrospective of the TRANSINNOV project and a projection towards the DOP.

** Continuous learning and diffusion **
TRANSINNOV project is too short to realize all projects and evaluations that derived from the surveys and experimentations run. Activities are programmed for all partners beyond the delivery of the DOP: new sessions of the SPARK workshop, meetings with regional partners, follow up meeting (probably during “360 possibles” event in St Malo, France, November 2016), communication at European conferences (presentation during EBN Congress in September 2016 confirmed).

TRANSINNOV project and setting up SPARK has proven to be a successful systemic process and an opportunity for organisational learnings at Innovation Agencies, regional eco-system and European levels."

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)

From partners’ feedback and experimentation, it is now clear that the workshop format that has been designed is innovative. It is a source of inspiration for other events inside the partners-agencies but also in other organisations of regional innovation eco-system.
Appling lean start-up, design thinking and agile management in the processes to support interaction between researchers and enterprises is to be continued and further explored.

These approaches have also contaminated other processes inside the partners’ organisations. For example, through new ways of setting pilot actions or through new interaction between departments.

Both agencies that have decided to run the SPARK prototype have involved designers in the process. The feedbacks were very positive from all parts. That opened new perspectives to bring designers much earlier in the innovation process, including in research, and more generally as intermediate between researchers and enterprises to strengthen project generation and innovation processes.

Working on TRANSINNOV and SPARK finally discovered gaps and new needs in some regions. Fortunately, the peer-learning process brought some solutions to these and future collaborations between agencies have emerged on strategic projects that will impact regional dynamics.

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