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Improve innovation services for SMEs by enabling synergies between RDI European funds

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EUROSYN (Improve innovation services for SMEs by enabling synergies between RDI European funds)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-11-30

The aim of the project was to collaboratively address a common innovation support challenge; namely to improve the use of public funds for R&D&I enabling synergies between ESIF, H2020 and other funds.
Intermediary organizations offering support services on funding opportunities to SMEs are relevant actors in this process from two main points of view:
1) they can help policy makers in the development and application of the synergies,
2) they can support SMEs in the correct use of public funds for R&D.
The Peer learning activity let partners to learn from the best and to share good and bad practices in funding opportunities support services.
The realized Design Option Paper is a “guide” or a “handbook” for other agencies and business support centres to provide similar and/or more focused services on funding opportunities support.
The three project partners (Friuli Innovazione – Italy, Forschung Burgenland – Austria, KEPA - Greece) implemented a peer-review process focused on public funds for R&D&I and support programmes for SMEs in order to improve their use by enabling synergies between ESIF, H2020 and other funds.
The peer-learning process was based on two workshops (2 days each in Eisenstadt and Udine) aimed at learning from the best and sharing good and bad practices in funding opportunities support services, as preparatory activity for the DOP preparation.
The workshops were organized through:
- the selection of an external moderator to professionally apply the Twinning + methodology;
- the creation of a peer learning group (≥12 persons, from the 3 partners + representatives from regional authorities) in order to strengthen the competences in supporting SMEs in searching for funding opportunities and preparing good and successful R&D&I project proposals.
Moreover, the partners implemented a pilot action by the means of a Personalized Innovation Audit with 15 SMEs from the project partners' regions, with the aim of analysing company’s research and innovation projects ideas and getting information about how to finance their investments thanks to synergies between funds.
Such activities were functional for the preparation of the DOP - Design Options Paper, which identifies and documents the existing options, guidelines and implementation alternatives that EUROSYN partners have experienced and would recommend to other agencies interested in implementing the proposed best practice.
Furthermore, the partners implemented different communication and dissemination activities about the project results, among which the organization of:
- a public event in Brussels during European Week of Cities and Regions (October 10th, 2017);
- three local workshops (one per each partners’ regions) presenting to SMEs how to exploit the opportunities offered by the synergies between funds.
Finally, the partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding in view of possible, future collaborations on the topic of synergies among funds.
The project has facilitated the knowledge exchange among the partners and the acquisition of improved skills on the following matters:
- provision of support services about synergies between funds to mainly manufacturing SMEs in the involved territories;
- improvement of administrative and ‘back-office’ aspects in the management of innovation support programmes to SMEs;
- enhancement of qualitative procedures in identifying the needs of SMEs and the corresponding most suitable funding schemes;
- identification of “good practices” among innovation agencies and intermediary organizations that have effectively exploit the opportunities offered by the synergies between funds (European, national, local).
These elements are significant results to increase the role of intermediary organizations, which can enable SMEs to concretely and correctively exploit these opportunities, enhance their capacity to boost their research and innovation performance, be competitive on international markets and face global competition.
Moreover, the project can contribute to:
- prepare the ground for R&D&I investments by handing out the results through various networks, in order to outreach innovation agencies, intermediary organizations and SMEs in the majority of EU members states;
- build capacities and skills: the development of a Design Options Paper will set the basis for building skills of the innovation agencies and intermediary organizations’ staff in realizing synergies between funds as well as SMEs in applying R&D&I investments;
- open dialogue with policy makers about the topic of synergies among funds.
Picture of the second peer-learning workshop in Udine.