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Services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SMEs in the Enterprise Europe Network

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SWENNIS2 (Services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SMEs in the Enterprise Europe Network)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Successful growth companies tend to be significantly better at innovation management than average. However, most SMEs and SME support organisations consider the inability to manage innovation processes efficiently and effectively as one of the most important barriers to create economic impact (competitiveness, growth and jobs) from innovation activities in SMEs.

The objective of this project SWENNIS2 was to address these problems by providing services enhancing the innovation management capacity of innovating SMEs to increase and accelerate their economic returns from innovation.

Two SME target groups have received 7-day work packages in this project. They have been divided into the following work packages:

1. WP1 Key Account Management (KAM) services for the beneficiaries of the SMEs Instrument.
2. WP2 Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC) for innovating SMEs.

The total number of 137 SMEs (target: 105) were mentored in the two work packages:
• 91 Swedish SMEs (target: 42) were beneficiaries of SME Instrument 2015-2016 and received KAM services.
• 46 SMEs (target: 63) were identified for the EIMC process and received EIMC services
The distribution was effected by the number of successful SMEs applying for the SME Instrument.
The first target group of 91 beneficiaries of the SMEs Instrument were all contacted by their selected KAM and introduced to the KAM services. Each company was visited and a need analysis was carried out before looking for relevant business coaches.

The KAM created a profile of the desired coach and controlled that it matched the SME’s expectations. The KAMs searched for coaches within the database created by EASME, his/her own network, the other KAM’s network etc in order to find a suitable match. Business coaches were selected and introduced to the company, who did the final selection.

The KAM was moderating the coach-client relationship, assisted with the case tracker and accompanied the beneficiaries through SME instrument project.

The second target group of 46 SMEs were identified suitable for the EIMC process. A pre-meeting was held with each company to introduce them to the EIMC activities and prepare them for the assessment. The assessment was carried out by two EIMC coaches using IMP³rove or Innovation Health Check (developed by Enterprise Ireland).

EIMC coaches proposed an action plan after studying the assessment report. The action plan was always discussed and prioritized together with the company before starting the implementation.

The coaches agreed together with the SME about how to best make use of the coaching time to implement the action plan. In most cases, the coach also helped to introduce and initiate new thinking and new methodologies for the company through workshops with parts of the staff of the SMEs.
Enterprise Europe Network in Sweden, as whole, has gained even deeper competence, through the innovation management specialists, within innovation management in small and medium sized enterprises.
Swedish SMEs that have benefited from the project are most likely better prepared to handle future innovations and there are signs that show that they have increased their innovation management capacity as a result of having received EIMC or KAM services that hopefully will lead to long term positive economic impact (competitiveness, growth and jobs). However, it was yet too early to evaluate the outcomes when this project ended (December 2016). Enhancing innovation capacity is a continuous process that takes time to implement and the results could probably be measured first after 24-36 months. Regardless of this, we have been able to use many good cases (where the impacts were more immediate) as good examples to increase the awareness of the services.