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UK150330_Support to the provision of services Enhancing the innovation management capacities of SMEs by the Enterprise Europe Network in 2014

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UK150330_IMCpilot (UK150330_Support to the provision of services Enhancing the innovation managementcapacities of SMEs by the Enterprise Europe Network in 2014)

Reporting period: 2014-05-01 to 2014-12-31

Europe2020, (and H2020), moves the innovation agenda towards tangible outcomes: towards the creation of new goods and services with concrete global market potential. The project’s underlying objective is to contribute to this agenda, encouraging smart growth in the EU by increasing effective investment in innovation linked to profitable exploitation international markets.

The underpinning objective of this proposal is to pilot the development of a quality and workable Enterprise Europe Network delivery service in Scotland that supports SMEs to increase their innovation management capacity and to innovate successfully and profitably. The pilot project covers the whole of Scotland, through the two innovation focussed partners of the Enterprise Europe Network Scotland consortium: Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The project’s specific objective is to ensure that Scottish SMEs with international innovation and growth ambitions are empowered by unlocking their full growth potential through better internal innovation management capability. The project has sought to improve the innovation performance of Scottish SMEs, both for beneficiaries of the SME Instrument (through the Key Account Management service: KAM Service) and for the wider SME innovation base (through the innovation management capacity building service: IMC Service).

Specific objectives include:
• Identification of bottlenecks to the creation of economic impact in companies benefiting from grants by Horizon2020's SME instrument and addressing these bottlenecks with the help of capable coaches.
• Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of innovation processes in SMEs with significant innovation activities that could potentially become beneficiaries of European support to research and innovation
KAM Activities and results:

As a result of the KAM activity in 2014, a needs analysis was carried out with each of the 3 successful Scottish SME instrument beneficiaries to determine areas of focus for coaching. All three SME Instrument beneficiaries have selected coaches and are embarking on coacing activities.

Description of Work performed:

SME Instrument beneficiaries from June 2014 cut off date were assigned to their KAMs within the Enterprise Europe Network Scotland team in October 2014, following SME contract signature. All 3 beneficiaries were based in the central belt of Scotland and therefore under the geographic remit of Scottish Enterprise.
The coordinator of Enterprise Europe Network Scotland, once receiving confirmation from EASME, assigned a KAM to each of the beneficiaries: KAMs were matched according to sectoral expertise and/or previous interaction with the company. After an initial phone call to the SME to introduce the KAM and coaching service, meetings were set up and a needs analysis was carried out to determine areas of focus for coaching. On the back of this discussion, The KAM drew up a list of potential suitable coaches. The SMEs were then helped to select a coach that met their requirements and the KAM qualified the coach. The KAM made the appropriate introductions, set out the role of the coach and KAM in supporting the company going forward.

Innovation Management Capacity building and results:

13 SMES were supported under this action line, all off whom undertook a supported IMPROVE assessment and all based in the Scottish Enterprise region.

SMEs targeted for the Innovation Management Capacity Service and supported IMPROVE assessment were selected by their Scottish Enterprise account managers as those with innovation and growth ambition, but with challenges in their innovation processes and strategies. All SMES had applied and/or received related grants and support services from SE and were hence known to them. The 13 SMES undertaking the Improve assessment all identified areas of their innovation management and processes on which to concentrate. These companies are now engaged with Scottish Enterprise/Enterprise Europe Network Scotland staff to help address the areas concerned.
It is too early in the day to measure any real impact. However in terms of longer term expected impacts:

Direct impact from the two actions will be a significantly enhanced potential growth and profitability of SMEs receiving the services. Innovation processes will be conducted more efficiently and more effectively. In turn, this should lead to more highly capable SME strategic innovators successfully launching globally competitive products and services, as well as feeding a pipeline of successful SME Instrument applicants. These SMEs will be strongly integrated into and supported by the regional innovation ecosystem accelerating the impact of the support provided.

Indirect impact is expected from the introduction of high quality innovation management capacity assessment and support services in all regions across Europe. In an increasing number of regions, the described action will lead to the integration of innovation management capacity building into regional innovation support. Benchmarking through IMProve will also become more meaningful as a critical number of SMEs undertake the assessment.

In terms of results to date within the pilot, initial feedback from the SME Instrument Beneficiaries on the KAM support and coaching service provided is very positive. All are looking to submit to Phase II in 2015.

Of the 13 SMEs undertaking an IMPROVE assessment, all are taking part in Scottish Enterprise’s “Deeper Innovation” programme, 3 are developing or renewing their innovation strategy, 3 are looking at new product development and 1 has engaged in a major project with a Scottish University.
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