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Continuing the services of enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's by the Enterprise Europe Network in Flanders

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VEBIN SME 2.0 (Continuing the services of enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's by the Enterprise Europe Network in Flanders)

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

The H2020 project has two main specific objectives i.e. continuing the EEN services for the enhancement of the innovation capacity of SMEs in Flanders and the Key Account Management for the beneficiaries of the SME Instrument in Flanders. Particular attention is given to the integrated management of these two services and the organisation of smart signposting of clients within the VEBIN consortium in charge of the overall activities of EEN in Flanders, including the interaction with the NCPs for H2020 in Flanders. Also important is the interaction with the local support ecosystem for SMEs in Flanders, and in particular the innovation support services that operate in the region of Flanders, as well as the access to finance support services. Smart signposting, high quality service delivery with a clear European added value are the focus in the present project. Special attention is also given to embedding the project activities in the overall framework of activities of the Flemish consortium of the Enterprise Europe network (VEBIN). In that way we secure that H2020 clients of the SME instrument get also familiar with the other services of EEN. As of 2018 also the Flemish SME clients in the H2020 Fast track to Innovation consortia are supported by the KAM services of the VEBIN SME 2.0 consortium.
In WP1 (KAM services) all cases signposted by the EASME for needs analysis with regard to coaching and further follow up of the grantees. For the WP2 (EIMC) 46 SMEs have been served in 2017, and 55 in 2018 which is more than expected. Most of the cases are Seal of excellence holders for the SME instrument for which extra efforts have been done in catering for their needs with regard to investment and market readiness. Signposting to other EEN services has been done also systematically whenever necessary.
A major achievement is that in December 2018 we eventually managed to make the regional government agree on a Fast track 'red carpet' treatment for holders of Seal of Excellence so that they can be signposted to the regional support system also for activities that go beyond TRL 6. The modalities of such support are now being designed by host organisation VLAIO.
The economic impact of these cases will only become visible after a certain period of time. Clients are constantly followed up so that we can keep track of the impact of our services. A first impact report we expect to be able to deliver in Autumn 2019.
A consistent observation over the last 3 years is that where initially a majority of high-potential companies did not have high growth ambitions, this seems to change since 2018. Many companies now see also internationalisation as a precondition for their growth or survival. It is remarkable that the majority of young high-potential companies realize their first international sales within the first year after their founding, which is above the EU average. Close neighbour countries however result to be still the most popular option for international sales.