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Innovation Support services by EEN for Enhancing the Innovation Management Capacity of Bulgarian SMEs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EEN-BG InnoSupp (Innovation Support services by EEN for Enhancing the Innovation Management Capacity of Bulgarian SMEs)

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

The overall objective – to enhance the innovation management capacity of SMEs – is broken down into the following specific objectives:

• To support the SMEs that are beneficiaries of the SME instrument in strengthening their innovation management capacity and enhancing their overall innovation performance throughout their project implementation. This will be done by identifying gaps and needs in the innovation management domain, proposing the best match of coach(es) profile(s) and acting as mediator between the SME and innovation coach(es) to address these gaps and needs. The services for achieving this specific objective are the so called “Key Account Management” (KAM) services in the context of the present call;
• To enhance the innovation management capacity of Bulgarian SMEs by addressing gaps and needs with well-devised actions and measures towards increased efficiency and effectiveness of the innovation processes, and thus increased potential to benefit from the European support for research and innovation. This objective will be pursued by delivering the so called ‘Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity’ services in the context of this call (EIMC services).
Over the period 2015-16 the EEN partners committed concerted resource to support innovative BG SMEs by enhancing their innovation management capacity (EIMC). 115 SMEs have received consultancy services in the innovation domain. Four of them were beneficiaries of the SME Instrument Phase 1 and the successful implementation of their projects was given impetus by the KAM and coaching services provided. For the remaining 111 companies EIMC services were launched - 86 completed by end-2016 and 25 still ongoing. The companies served cover 39 different sectors of the economy, two of them with explicitly higher presentation than the rest – Manufacture of Machinery and Equipment, and Computer Programming, Consultancy and Related Activities. This is not a surprise given that these two sectors are among the top ones in the BG innovation performance. It is also a positive outcome that among the beneficiaries of the EIMC services there are likewise companies from more traditional sectors (though low in number), which is to show that they are trying to leverage their economic performance by shifting to innovation-lead and knowledge-intensive manufacturing processes or products and services – e.g. textile, wood processing, or manufacture of furniture.
The consolidated efforts of the Bulgarian EEN partners and the services delivered, lead to considerable impact on the clients having in mind the relatively low pace at which innovation is happening in BG.
The four SME Instrument beneficiaries have successfully completed their feasibility studies for the new products and services they are developing, all of them above TRL6.
The remaining companies that were delivered assessment of their innovation management capacity followed by an Improvement Action Plan implemented with the joint efforts of the EEN experts and the clients, have made considerable achievements in their own innovation course. In the majority of the clients the innovation identified is ‘product or service’, followed by ‘process’, ‘organisational or marketing innovation, and ‘business model’.
The impact spelled out in improving the innovation life cycle of their products or services, launching new products or services, in expanding existent markets or exploring and entering new markets, in improving the business model or launching a new business model. One of the beneficiary clients reports merger with an innovation partner. Highest impact is observed on the Innovation Strategy of clients – either improved, or a new one introduced, along with raised awareness of the client top-management team on the key role innovation management plays in the overall innovation performance of the company.
A meeting with innovative companies and stakeholders where the H2020 services are promoted