Skip to main content

Towards Innovative Low Carbon SMEs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TWINN-LC-SMEs (Towards Innovative Low Carbon SMEs)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

The growing evidence supporting the presence of climate change, and it’s devastating consequences, is increasing the urgency for a global shift towards a more resilient, resource efficient, low carbon economy. The SMEs sector accounts for more than half of the private sector added value making it a significant resource in the transition towards the global adoption of a systemic low carbon approach. Evidence suggests there is growing interest in ‘low carbon’ innovation and uptake can be significantly increased by supporting SMEs to promote adaptation and mitigation innovation across multiple market sectors. This, in turn, will drive forward the low carbon economy and create jobs.

Supporting the development of cleantech innovation with multi-sector relevance, and connecting these innovators to market consumers is therefore an important part of encouraging market growth. This however is a complex challenge and requires a robust response model.

Innovation Agencies are uniquely positioned to collaborate and share knowledge across the innovation agency community, providing the potential to enhance support for start-ups to reach knew markets, whilst also identifying best practice. The strategic objective of the TWINN project is to facilitate this peer-learning between innovation agencies. Through a detailed evaluation of existing best practice and context based case studies a Design Options Paper (DOP) has been produced to share the learning from this project and provide guidance on effective peer-learning.

The DOP demonstrates how innovation agencies can share knowledge and collaborate to develop a flexible best practise model. It demonstrates how cleantech start-ups, in particular, value this multi-sector approach, and to meet national carbon reduction targets these agencies need to understand how their activities interact with whole system thinking. It therefore acts as a guide for innovation agencies wishing to establish new market opportunities for cleantech start-ups. To this end it presents Engaging cross Sector Market Exchanges (EngagingSMEs), as a replicable multi-sector added value workshop, designed to be integrated in to a wider cleantech start-up support programme.
TWINN was a peer learning project between Innovation Agencies under H2020 INNOSUP 5; Climate KIC, UK&NI (West Midlands, UK), Societá Consortile per Azioni ASTER (Emilia Romagna, Italy) and Asociación Valenciana de Empresas del Sector de la Energía AVAESEN (Valencias, Spain). The TWINN project partners implemented the “Twinning Advanced methodology” to share and transfer existing knowledge of practices for the development of a new enhanced best practice.

Utilising the Twinning Advanced Methodology the team developed SEDAR to structure the programme:
• S – Study: Study existing examples of cross-sector innovation collaboration to strengthen support for the development of low carbon innovation across the partnership.
Stakeholder need: We wanted to ensure we were including successfully demonstrated practices to enhance our workshop and ensure value and a robust proposal by utilising existing knowledge.
• E – Exchange: Exchange knowledge and learn from others about existing best practice elements.
Stakeholder need: We wanted to share our own learning to add experience and value to the proposal, as well as share this learning with others.
• D – Develop: Develop a new value add workshop to enhance existing start up support programmes.
Stakeholder need: We wanted to develop a real solution to the identified challenges.
• A – Analyse: Analysis and assessment of the implementation and possible adaptations of EngagingSMEs, carried out by independent contributors.
Stakeholder need: To ensure a robust approach we wanted our findings to be scrutinised independently.
• R – Recommend: Recommendations for the implementation of the designed practice model EngagingSMEs were elaborated and consulted with the Climate-KIC community.
Stakeholder need: Recommendations for improvements or amendments were taken on board and are reflected in the final enriched DOP.

The process design was developed into a report and followed by three workshops to share and exchange best practice in UK, Spain and Italy. Following these workshops the DOP was development through an iterative approach with two Design Options Paper Workshops followed by Design Options Paper Drafts. Consultation on the Design Option Paper preceeded the final version.

The Design Option Paper (DOP) formed the main deliverable of the TWINN project and presents Engaging cross Sector Market Exchanges (EngagingSMEs), a value add workshop designed to be integrated into a wider cleantech start-up support programme. This workshops seeks to extend the range of cleantech innovation across multiple market sectors, through providing start-up SMEs cross sector innovation collaboration opportunities to address business challenges. This will enhance the regional innovation pipeline and in turn support the wider goal of national carbon reduction.
A review of commonly understood ‘state-of-the-art projects’ relating to low carbon SMEs support was conducted using the horizon scanning method. The review of the state-of-the-art projects confirm the TWINN project view that supporting SMEs to promote their adaptation and mitigation innovations as resource efficiency tools for multiple market sectors is needed to drive forward the low carbon economy. Supporting the development of cross sector low carbon innovation and connecting it to market consumers is therefore an important issue which requires a robust approach to support.

It can be concluded that in order to effectively mainstream the low carbon economy the technology-solution (supply-side) approach should be complemented with those focusing on behavioural change (demand-driven) solutions and its qualitative aspects (public acceptability). The EngagingSMEs programme brings together these aspects, across markets to support demand-driven solutions that are needed for the mainstreaming of the low carbon economy. Although the incentives from the policy actors are desired at the same time to create "pull" demand for low carbon technologies and behaviour, the additional support that is given by the Innovation Agencies in instruments such as the EngagingSMEs programme is particularly valuable.

The development of this EngagingSMEs approach has established a replicable model for enhancing the support provided by innovation agencies across Europe. This has the potential to not only provide new jobs through the growth of SMEs but positively support wider societal impacts associated with climate change. The methodology will enable innovation agencies to support SMEs to address multiple market sectors, increasing the value of their innovation and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy. The consultation exercise which engaged the Climate-KIC community across Europe highlighted the interest with this approach with all respondents replying positively regarding their interest in implementation. This highlights the potential impact of the outcomes of this project with further impact achievable through the implementation of the recommendations for further dissemination.