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Establishing services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's in the Enterprise Europe Network- London

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EENLondon H2020 (Establishing services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's in the Enterprise Europe Network- London)

Reporting period: 2014-09-01 to 2014-12-31

The overall aim of the project was to raise the innovation competence of London based SMEs through the provision of services designed to unlock their potential for international growth via innovation.The project sought to address and strengthen the area of innovation management for some of London’s most innovative SMEs. As identified by the European Commission, innovation management is a key area for companies and yet the inability to manage these processes effectively is a significant barrier to SME innovation and ultimately competitiveness. This was the context in which we sought to enhance the innovation competence of London based companies.

Objective 1 was to deliver a service designed to enhance the innovation management capacity of SMEs by providing in depth support services to SMEs in the area of innovation management where these are absent or unaffordable within London. The beneficiaries of these services were to be SMEs with existing, significant innovation activities and which have a high potential for internationalisation. We estimated that 25 service packages would be delivered over the course of the project for this group of SMEs, and that each beneficiary would experience a significant improvement within its innovation management capacity.

Objective 2 was to provide beneficiaries of the SME Instrument under Horizon 2020, with specific targeted assistance to support coaching assignments addressing specific innovation weaknesses which may hinder the outcomes of the SME Instrument project proposed by the SME . EEN advisors were to act as Key Account Managers to the beneficiaries, providing:
 support to identify weaknesses in their innovation capacities,
 help with identifying suitable coaches to address the identified weaknesses,
 a moderation of the coach-client relationship
 continued support to the beneficiary through out the SME instrument project.
We estimated that 10 service packages would be delivered in this period for this group of SMEs. Through the delivery of these work packages, beneficiaries would increase their chance of overcoming the obstacles to growth and enhance the probability of a successful exploitation of the innovation project.

Both of these services would increase and accelerate the economic returns from the beneficiary’s innovation projects.
Work Performed:

For Work Package 1: Key Account Management (KAM) for the beneficiaries of the SME Instrument, GLE allocated one of its experienced advisors who had already undergone formal training for the two tools proposed in the work programme.

Upon provision by EASME of the contacts (email address) of the four London SME Instrument beneficiaries, a GLE advisor emailed each individual company to introduce the KAM service. The SMEs were introduced to the service and the advisor highlighted the benefits of coaching, scheduling an initial meeting with management team of each beneficiary. The advisor visited the mentioned companies and explained the process in more detail to the management team as well as providing as an introduction to Growth Mapper, the tool chosen to identify the SME needs and be a departure point to facilitate the identification of the best coach. Once the SME utilised Growth Mapper to undertake the needs analysis, both the advisor and the SME used its output to search the Coaching Database and then selected potential best match coaches.

Regarding the two SMEs that went through this process in 2014, Abcodia and Artaic, both the advisor and the management team agreed that due to each respective company’s specific needs, none of the coaches present in the database were suitable. For these two cases, the advisor actively searched for potential coaches outside the Coaching Database and presented options to the company. A coach was then selected by each company and the advisor proceed by supporting the coach with registration on the database, contract with EASME and liaison with the company. During this process the advisor worked alongside the beneficiary to monitor and measure progress, maintain a good level of the beneficiary-coach relationship, capture the deliverables/results and report them and when suitable promote them through a dissemination phase in internal and external communication channels.

Altogether there were four KAM cases covered in the project, all currently in different stages of development, the beneficiaries of which are the following London companies: Abcodia Ltd, Q-Bot Ltd, Beckett Rankine Ltd and Artaic Ltd.

Main results of the action:

The action resulted in four London SMEs being offered the KAM service, of which two have accepted and two have asked for the service to start being provided later on in 2015. In more detail, the individual results of the action were as following:

Abcodia Ltd, whose contact details were provided by EASME in October 2014, accepted the KAM service and is hoping to start working with a coach in April 2015, as the chosen coach is currently waiting for EASME to conclude the contract arrangements. With a GLE-EEN advisor's support, the company intends to submit their Phase Two proposal in September 2015.

Q-Bot Ltd, whose contact details were provided by EASME in October 2014, declined the service for 2014, alleging lack of time from the management team due to a busy last quarter of 2014. The company stated they would contact GLE-EEN in 2015 for a second discussion. A GLE advisor has made a second contact in 2015.

Beckett Rankine Ltd, whose contact details were provided by EASME in October 2014, only accepted the KAM service in December 2014, with the first meeting taking place in February 2015. The company is currently receiving support from a GLE-EEN advisor and intends to submit a Phase Two proposal in June 2015.

Artaic Ltd, whose contact details were provided by EASME in November 2014, accepted the KAM service and began looking at proposed coaches in February 2015. In the meantime, the company decided to focus on their business plan, the feasibility report and Phase Two submission. With support from GLE-EEN advisors, Artaic submitted their Phase Two proposal in March 2015. The company intends to conclude the coach selection in May 2015.

In sum, all of the four companies allocated to GLE were contacted by an advisor and offered the service. In line with our proposed programme, a GLE-EEN advisor first contacted the four companies by email, followed by conversation over the phone where the KAM service and its benefits were explained. Following the companies’ wishes and upon agreement, the GLE-EEN advisor met with the companies in their registered offices
In the proposed work programme, we have committed to collate a summary of activities and yielded results from each beneficiary, alongside a statement of progress, once the KAM service has been completed. Up until April 2015 none of the four SMEs have completed the entire KAM service, so it is not possible to measure impact as at the time of this report.
Nevertheless, all four SMEs were pleased with the KAM service offer and understood that such service could have an impact on the business. They have already noticed a benefit to their innovation capacities and this will no doubt be measurable upon completion of the service.