Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INNOLABS (INNOvative LABS for leveraging cross capacity building between ICT, Health, BIO and Medicine sectors for new emerging industries in personalized health)
Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-10-31
As a cluster driven project, INNOLABS developed its activities on the premise that innovation thrives in organizations and regions that build the right conditions, competences and skills. The consortium organized three Hackathons, two Idea Competitions and a large number of smaller events all around Europe. All these had a double aim: educate the companies on burning issues (e.g. regulatory approvals, intellectual property protection, among other) as well as opening doors for collaboration between industry, patients and care institutions. These events created the critical mass of SMEs and collaborative ideas than then applied to be part of the two acceleration programs.
All-in-all, our mission was to create opportunities and value streams to bring innovation faster and closer to the market. INNOLABS created a support framework for that to happen and facilitated co-development between many SMEs and care institutions.
As a result, the project has engaged with over 300 organizations, directly supporting over 130 SMEs with over €4 million worth of grants, innovation services and prizes, awarded in our competitive events and our two Acceleration programs. There was impressive engagement from the SMEs supported and great added value created.
Together, the consortium of 8 partners delivered the keys to unlock the potential of SMEs towards three main objectives:
• Test and validate optimal support measures for taking merged ICT and biomedical research products and services to market by comparing measures for traditional value chains with new fast lane measures.
• Increase the competitiveness of SMEs by using targeted support mechanisms that generate added value encompassing expert knowledge, new partnerships and market optimization of products
• Secure new funding streams to facilitate sustainable cycles of collaborative innovation by SMEs
INNOLABS support for SMEs was guided by an Acceleration Funnel Approach. A first step was providing the conditions for best ideas to thrive, through online and physical meetings and workshops. These ideas were then expected to coalesce in teams. For this INNOLABS provided both IT tools (matchmaking portal) and facilitated physical encounters in major INNOLABS events (Hackathons in Gdansk, Berlin and Oslo, Ideas Contests in Barcelona and Paris, an Investors Day in Madrid and a final event and Demo Day in Oslo). Some of these connected to larger events e.g. InfoShare in Gdansk or the FUTUR.E.S festival in Paris in June 2018.
One of the main challenges that INNOLABS addressed was that SMEs need help to generate, take up and better capitalize on all forms of knowledge, creativity, craftsmanship and innovation. Each company was allocated a Key Account Manager (KAM) to guide them through the Acceleration Cycles.
The provision of needs-led, customised innovation services was preceded by assessing where each SME was in terms of innovation practice and performance. Data was collected from SMEs using a benchmarking tool, the Innovation Health Check developed by Enterprise Ireland. It was an important instrument for self-assessment in order to evaluate the SMEs innovation process and that how this process is impacted by company culture, business strategy & structure, the company capability & resources. The identification of the main strengths and weaknesses helped the selection of the best fitting innovation support services for the SMEs.
The ‘dark horse’ services that get traction with the teams: IPR and regulatory compliance
The two nine-month Acceleration periods helped the supported SMEs validate their technical, commercial and business hypothesis, build credibility and become an attractive and well-structured opportunity for prospective future partners including large industry players, health care providers and investors.
The best solutions we supported were recently showcased at our DemoDay and Final INNOLABS event in Oslo on the 19-20 September where SMEs pitched on how much value they made out of the INNOLABS support – . Videos on some of our success stories and main highlights from the two days event can be seen on the project’s website, illustrating that it is possible for a small cascade funding project like INNOLABS to make a difference, by cutting the red tape, partnering and working closely with the SMEs.
To better understand the barriers to and enablers of cross-sector collaboration we used the Innovation Health Check (IHC) benchmarking tool developed by Enterprise Ireland with almost all the lead SMEs which entered the acceleration. The aim was to collect baseline and follow up data to establish how ‘innovation’ oriented the companies were, and in what they improved during the acceleration. The progress of each INNOLABS project in delivering its product, service or combination of both was being monitored by their KAMs. By the end of the acceleration programmes the SMEs completed their original project plans – in same cases with small deviations – and delivered cross-chain achievements.
At the end of the acceleration periods IHC was used again with a group of lead SMEs to measure any improvements in innovation practice and performance, and though it was unlikely that performance improvements could be identified in such a relatively short time line as 9 months, still improvement were reported for almost all the 52 areas relevant for innovation.
The most noticeable or striking positive changes were related to Analysing Competitive Advantage, Ambition to Grow, Customer Information, Segmenting the Market, Service innovation, and Future market focus, but there were also many other fields which got a score in a higher range, above 4 out 5, showing the diversity of improved knowledge, skills, and competencies within the acceleration.
Besides the technological development and pilot actions, the most progress was made related to business strategy development, customer analysis, market entry, intellectual property management, and fundraising, and the drafted future plans also confirm that although the acceleration programme will finish, new doors were opened already – partly with the help of the reputation provided by INNOLABS participation – and the work will continue in another level, with new partners, in new settings, in many cases using new funds.