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Innovating Hessian SMEs towards Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InnoHessen2Europe (Innovating Hessian SMEs towards Europe)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Enterprises succeeding as growth champions tend to have a significantly better innovation management along the whole value chain from idea generation to market entry. This issue has been the main idea of the project InnoHessen2Europe being implemented by Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH (HTAI), representing the EEN Hessen. The project has been embedded in the action „Consultation Enterprise Europe Network H2020 2017-2018 Activities”.
The overall objective of this action thus has been to support innovative SMEs with a high potential for growth and internationalisation to optimize their innovation value chain by enhancing their innovation management capacity and to contribute to a successful implementation of the projects funded under SME Instrument, Future Emerging Technologies Open and Fast Track to Innovation. The objective has been targeted with two services: Key Account Management (KAM) and Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC).
The services delivered have contributed to a balanced business and technology development of clients consulted, resulting in an increased competitiveness and growth. Thus, they are likely to strengthen their ability to perform well in the European Single Market and outside. The objective therefore supports the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of activation of SMEs’ business potential.
Hessian beneficiaries of the SME Instrument were supported with Key Account Management (KAM). EEN Hessen assessed their gaps and challenges, identified suitable coaches, facilitated the interaction between the coaches and the SMEs and responded to further needs by additional support measures. The overall aim was to enable those companies to conduct their innovation projects successfully and thus to contribute to their commercial growth. EEN Hessen has supported 14 SMEI beneficiaries, two out of them financed under SMEI phase 2. Furthermore, EEN innovation experts took care of Hessian companies awarded SMEI Seal of Excellence and SMEI phase 1 beneficiaries by helping them to approach other sources of funding. Bringing companies with investors has been also facilitated by canvassing KAM clients to use the EU acceleration services and through the activities offered under the Scale-up pilot project.
Other Hessian SMEs with significant innovation activities and a high potential for growth and internationalisation were supported in the separate service Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC). EEN Hessen assessed their gaps and needs, developed together with the SMEs suitable action plans and facilitated their implementation. With these activities, complemented by a wide range of further EEN services, HTAI contributed to increasing the competitiveness of Hessian SMEs and strengthening their ability to operate successfully in the European Single Market and outside.
The action was conducted by EEN Hessen innovation experts, all senior staff experienced in innovation management. They used the „Innovation Health Check“ by Enterprise Ireland as a CEN/TS 16555-1 tool to assess the innovation management capacity of Hessian clients and to identify needs to be responded to. 13 Hessian companies have been supported to improve their innovation management system or to establish first elements of such a system in their companies.
The services helped the clients to define priorities and to tackle challenges in their innovation process. This should support conducting the innovation projects successfully. In the KAM case the support should result in a smoother transition into the phase 2 of the project and to other sources of financing.
Further expected results are a higher commitment to a structured innovation management and a stronger involvement of the staff into the innovation process.
The project contributes to the aims of the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of increasing business and innovation performance of SMEs.
The EEN Hessen assisted 14 companies within the KAM process in 2017-2018, 12 of them beneficiaries of phase 1 and two beneficiaries of phase 2 of the SME Instrument. Six cases out of them are in progress. In line with the client journey concept of the network, there is a close synergy between the advisory within the COSME activities and the KAM process starting from the advisory and application support for SME Instrument through discussing evaluation results, analysing client’s needs for the project implementation, defining necessary steps for the project and beyond, facilitating the coach-SME interaction, supporting the phase 2 applications and advisory on alternative finance sources as well as phase 3 activities.
Within the EIMC process EEN Hessen has advised 12 companies in 2017-2018, two cases still being in progress. In general, the service has a positive impact especially in terms of improving the company’s position on the market, increasing the added value associated with the product or service, developing the potential to enter new markets, improving the quality of the product or service and increasing clients’ satisfaction. Finally, the service contributes to improving the innovation strategy and innovation management capacities of the client companies. Following a client-centric approach, the service is interlinked with the COSME activities. Most of the clients use the advice on funding schemes and on internationalisation and use EEN’s support in finding international partners and strengthening the regional network.