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Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNOV-ACTIS (INNOV-ACTIS)

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

The objective of this project is to provide innovation support services to SMEs. These innovation support services will be differentiated for two groups of SMEs:

• SMEs that have been selected as beneficiaries of the SME instrument, phase 1 or phase 2. For these companies, the consortium members will offer Key Account Management (KAM) services, which are accompanying services for the SMEs to identify weaknesses in their innovation capacities and suitable external coaches throughout their participation in the SME instrument.

• SMEs that have high potential for growth and internationalisation but that need to improve their innovation management capacities. These companies will receive direct assessment services from the consortium members in order to detect barriers and develop and implement an action plan in order to enhance such capacities and overcome the detected barriers.

The final number of supported companies has been 22, which is a quite good result if we consider all the problems we faced at the beginning of the project. Five companies received support services under the KAM activities of the SME Instrument Phase 1. Seventeen companies received support services for improving their innovation management capacities and developed action plans, of which fifteen were able to implement these actions plans and develop specific actions.
Due to the unexpected late approval of the contract and the delay in the publication of the SME Instrument beneficiaries, several consortium members had to face some problems to achieve the initial targets. Furthermore, the Network partners suffered difficulties to access to the IMP3rove training and its licenses.

Once the contracts were signed and the beneficiaries of the SME Instrument Phase 1 were published, the consortium assigned KAMs for each company. These KAMs contacted the companies in order to provide KAM services. A total of 5 companies have received the KAM support services in phase 1 of the SME Instrument.

On the innovation management capacities side, the consortium partners evaluated different alternatives to the use of IMP3rove. IMP3rove is an excellent tool but the consortium members realised that it was not the most adequate one for the local companies, since IMP3rove focuses in medium-big size SMEs with well defined internal structures. The regional companies, smaller than this, were a bit out of the scope of the IMP3rove approach. The consortium partners performed a search in order to provide a better service to the local SMEs and finally focused on the Innovation Health Check. This tool, developed by Enterprise Ireland, provides a similar service but requires lower administrative paperwork for the company. Thanks to this approach, the companies get interested in participating in this exercise.

The consortium partners were trained by Enterprise Ireland staff and started the collaboration with them in order to use this tool with the local SMEs and share the results for better future benchmarking. A total of 17 companies have received EIMC support services for the elaboration of action plans, of which 15 have been able to implement several actions (according to their available resources) of their action plans.
All the SME Instrument beneficiaries companies have been received supporting services in order to select the most available coach. These companies have also received support services in order to successful develop their Phase 1 projects and continue to Phase 2. These companies have projects which are expected to substantially increase their competitiveness and safeguard and create new jobs with an important social and economic impact.

The SMEs that have received innovation management capacities support services have detected their main areas for improvement. This will allow them to develop and implement actions in order to increase their capacities and improve in their innovation management, which will increase their success rate and their growth opportunities in the future. This also will get them a step closer to a position where they can develop new products and services, create new jobs and increase their turnover.

Some of the companies participating in the EIMC initiative have reinforced their innovation strategy and resources through specialised training actions related to EU R&D projects. As a result of this action, some of them have decided to submit a project proposal to future calls of the SME Instrument.
Staff of the Enterprise Europe Network who provided KAM and EIMC services