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Establishing SME Innovation Management Services in the Austrian Enterprise Europe Network

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMEINNOAUSTRIA (Establishing SME Innovation Management Services in the Austrian Enterprise Europe Network)

Reporting period: 2014-07-01 to 2014-12-31

The Horizon 2020 work programme names the lack of innovation management capacity as “…an important barrier to creating economic impact…” and accordingly as a significant challenge for innovative SMEs. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that consulting services to address these
gaps are either not sufficiently available in certain regions, not affordable or not sufficiently tailored to the specific needs of SMEs.

In the course of this action, the Austrian consortium supported SMEs in addressing these factors hindering successful innovation cycles.
Activities were targeted at enhancing the innovation management capacity (EIMC) of SMEs and at providing substantial consulting and support services in the form of Key Account Management (KAM) to beneficiaries of the Horizon 2020 SME instrument.

As requested by the call, SME instrument beneficiaries were supported in identifying weaknesses in the innovation capacities followed by the identification of a suitable coach to address these weaknesses. KAM services and business coaching were presented to the SME instrument beneficiaries. Where requested, an innovation gap analysis was carried out and suitable coaches searched for.

SMEs were also provided support in the form of an analysis of the full innovation process from idea generation to market introduction and generation of profit via the IMP3rove methodology. Based on an action plan agreed with the client, EEN experts addressed some or all identified bottlenecks and/or accompanied and supervised the work of other public or private sector consultants addressing these bottlenecks.

The support was delivered by experts well experienced in innovation related issues, working for the major innovation and research promotion agencies in Austria. Services were provided in close
cooperation and coordination with the National Contact Points and major regional and national stakeholders, guaranteeing a holistic approach and a high quality of services promoting the successful introduction of Austrian innovations to the European and international market.
Because of delays in the evaluation of the SMEINNOAUSTRIA proposal, the contracting of the EEN partners, but also a lack of trainings in the IMP3rove methodology, a lower number of service packages than indicated in the proposal could be provided.

All in all, the Austrian consortium supported three SME instrument beneficiaries in identifying potential weaknesses in the innovation process to be addressed via business coaches. One company was supported in finding a regional business coach, two companies were provided theses services at the beginning of 2015. One company was contacted and presented the business coaching, but they chose not to utilize this service.

Four companies were provided EIMC services. Suitable companies were identified, contacted, presented the service and assessments following the IMP3rove methodology were undertaken. Three follow-up workshops were carried out, where results were presented and follow-up actions and additional support from the EEN partners were discussed.
As, due to the already mentioned delays, the KAM and EIMC services only started in autumn 2014, the impact has not yet been formally measured. The services were in most cases welcomed by the SMEs, the analyses showed a definite need of the services provided and therefore a corresponding impact can be expected. The impact will be measured via a personal interview with the SME on the services provided.