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Enhancing innovation management capacity of SMEs in the Netherlands 2015-2016

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INMANCAP2 (Enhancing innovation management capacity of SMEs in the Netherlands 2015-2016)

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

SMEs are drivers of growth. The challenges that remain however are how to increase SMEs’ innovation potential and how to enable them to bring their innovative ideas to market. Although many SMEs benefit from national and international programmes and support systems many companies lack the ability and expertise to successfully commercialise their innovation. Therefore the European Commission offers coaching to SMEs with a particularly high EU-wide market and innovation potential and to all SME Instrument beneficiaries in addition to the financial grant received. The aim is to help companies increase and accelerate economic returns from innovation by raising their innovation management capacities, using proven, high quality methodologies.
Coaches will help the beneficiaries to progress over the life cycle of their innovation, from idea to proof of concept, to first pilot application and finally upscaling and expansion. They will empower the SME to cope with challenges such as developing their strategy and organisation, identifying their market and improving ability to attract finance.
The Enterprise Europe Network has been assigned by the European Commission to supply in-depth innovation support services by working with the management of particularly innovative SMEs in order to address innovation management deficiencies (EIMC) or to help them make the most of their SME Instrument project (KAM) by linking them to the right coach.
The overall objective of the project was to deliver services designed to enhance the innovation management capacity of SMEs in the Netherlands in the period of 1 January 2015 – 31 December 2016.
These services comprised both key account management (KAM) services under the SME Instrument of Horizon 2020 and services to enhance the innovation management capacities (EIMC) of SMEs.
The sub objectives for the first category were: to develop regional SME innovation management capacity by carrying out an innovation management gap analysis and developing and implementing a coaching action plan for a specific project under the H2020 SME Instrument.
The sub objectives for the second category are: to identify promising SMEs capable of growth and successful internationalisation, to carry out a diagnostic audit to identify gaps in the regional SME innovation management capacity and to develop and implement a tailored action plan to make the innovation system in the company more efficient and effective.
KAM services
Between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2016 71 SMEI beneficiaries have received KAM services. 20% of these cases were within the topic: Clinical research for the validation of biomarkers and/or diagnostic medical devices 2014/15. This was followed by Small business innovation research for transport 2014/15 (11%) and Information and Communication technologies - open disruptive innovation scheme 2014/15 (8%).
As the EASME has set up a strict procedure for KAM services all actions and the timing of the different steps are fixed. This means that each beneficiary has received the following personal services from the KAM:
- A needs analysis
- A nomination of candidate coaches
- A coach assignment
KAMs spent 3 days to Phase 1 (75%) and 4 days to Phase 2 (25%) beneficiaries.
The beneficiary received 3 days (Phase 1) or 12 days (Phase 2) of coaching by the assigned coach.
All steps have been documented in the Casetracker by the KAM.

EIMC services
The EIMC experts have followed the following procedure:
Acquisition Step: Assess SME’s suitability for the service
Step 1: Assessment of the current status of the innovation management system in the company by using the Innovation Health Check tool
Step 2: Needs&Gaps analysis and the making of the Plan of Action
Step 3: Action plan implementation
Step 4: Final Report / closing of the project

For the audit in WP2 (“Enhancing SME innovation management capacity” for innovating SME independently from a specific project) the Innovation Health Check tool of Enterprise Ireland was used. With the tool an analysis of the gaps and needs of the company could be made and together with the company an action plan was made and implemented.

The EIMC services have resulted in 133 intakes by promising SMEs and have resulted in 110 cases that have been brought fully to the end.
In total 181 (71+ 110) SMEs have received full-scale innovation services in this reporting period.
Most SMEs that have received business and innovation coaching confirm that it helped them improve internal decision making and their business strategy. The KAM and EIMC experts were also able to identify other support actions the Network could provide to them, like internationalisation support to brokerage activities (submitting of cooperation profiles, participation in international matchmaking events and company missions), signposting to national support programmes and access to finance.
Due to close cooperation between EEN innovation experts and the H2020-NCPs it was possible to provide extra support to Phase 1 beneficiaries that unsuccessfully applied for Phase 2 but received the Seal of Excellence by helping them to find other sources of finance and leading them to regular internationalisation support by the Network.
In this way a complete package of services could be offered which enhanced their potential to grow internationally.

The EIMC services were offered by the Chamber of Commerce and it used the means of the host-organisations for getting leads through its Servicecenter where all phonecalls and emails were answered. Next to that several events organized by the Chamber of Commerce were used to promote the EIMC-services. All advisors in the fields of innovation and/or internationalization have been informed about and were aware of the EIMC services. Because the Chamber of Commerce has 19 offices throughout the country there was a very strong foothold in the regions. The Chamber has 20 accountmanagers who carried a digital suitcase with several possibilities for SME’s including EIMC-services and EEN-possibilities. The intakes done by the innovation experts gave an answer to the question if the SME was ready for EIMC services to improve its innovative competiveness and international potential.
The Chamber also used its Newsletter Public to inform stakeholders about interesting programmes such as EEN and EIMC-services. Stakeholders knowing the programmes was necessarily for having other interesting leads.
The activities of the KAM and the EIMC services have had a positive effect on the market improvement and innovation cycle. With the SME instrument and KAM services SMEs were able to improve their innovation project on topics as market acceptance, cost-strategy, product strategy, technological innovativeness and business strategy. These improvements will lead to increased turnover and profit in the future. It is expected that SMEs will perform better in growth and continuity. SMEs learn from their innovation projects, and increase performance in new innovation projects in the future.
This all will lead to an increase of private investment in innovation, notably leverage of private co-investor and/or follow-up investments. Eventually this will lead to a possible increase of jobs and improvements on their competitor’s position.