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EEN-services for supporting the Key Account Management process in the SME-instrument and enhancing the INnOvation management capacities of SMEs (KAMINO)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KAMINO (EEN-services for supporting the Key Account Management process in the SME-instrument and enhancing the INnOvation management capacities of SMEs (KAMINO))

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

The main objective of the project was to continue the strengthening of international competitiveness and growth of innovative and research-oriented SMEs in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania. In particular, the project focused on the following objectives:
• Key Account Management (KAM) for successful applicants of the SME instrument in HORIZON 2020 (H2020)
• a significant improved structural and strategic innovation management in SMEs, expressed by the number of assessed and advised SMEs (EIMC),
• a better access and an increased participation of SMEs in EEN support services and in EU funding programs, expressed by the number of encouraged SMEs participating in EU funded projects.

Related to KAM service the experts gave competent regional support to the three beneficiaries of the SME instrument for a successful implementation of their funded projects. As a main step to reach success the KAMs acted according to the needs and gaps analyses and linked the company to designated experts in order to cope with analysed shortcomings. The initialized process of coaching was closely accompanied by administrative, technical and sometimes mediation support. Regarding the EIMC service the project partners identified regional innovative SMEs which want to widen their international activities, to enter the international market and/or to improve their innovation management capacities. Together with the companies the EIMC experts analyzed the innovation capacities, innovation processes, innovation strategies and internal organization structures as well as their relation to external innovation partners. Different proven tools were applied by the partners – depending on size and structure of the client, respectively know-how of EIMC staff in tool practice.

As a result of these steps the consultants of the project team could identify gaps and weaknesses and discussed and defined measures and work plans to overcome them. In the further course, recommendations were given to support the SMEs in their efforts to improve detected weaknesses and to give them advice to achieve the jointly defined targets.
In 2017 only one KAM case has been assisted by SFZ. This phase 2 project already started in 2016 and finished in 2018. In 2018 two new regional companies were successful in applying for the SME instrument in HORIZON 2020 – one phase 1 project and one phase 2 project. Both projects will be further accompanied by ATI and SFZ in 2019. The three EEN partners – ATI, SFZ and TPW – which were active in KAMINO supported 10 clients in 2017-2018 on the enhancement of innovation and management capacities (EIMC) and provided general information about the service opportunities for SMEs. Therefore, 12 cases were completed in within the project period. One of which had to be discontinued in 2018.

On the occasion of various regional events the project team was able to inform about the EIMC and KAM services offered in the project framework in close cooperation with local associated partners of the EEN team to a wide circle of clients for their specific innovation support needs. Furthermore, a lot of individual acquisition efforts were done to attract potential clients to use the EIMC services in order to improve the own innovation management structures and processes.

Main weaknesses identified in the innovation audit were e.g. support and follow-up in the setup of an internationalization strategy, qualification of personnel in the field of foreign languages and international business environments, diversification of the product range and development of new and international competitive products or services.
Within the reporting period, as indicated in the PES, the KAMINO partners delivered 12 service packages, 2 KAM packages (WP 1) and 10 EIMC packages (WP 2). The differences to the planned number of service packages in both work packages are resulting from:

• 2 successful applicants from Mecklenburg Western Pomerania in SME instrument in 2018
• The phase 1 project from 2018 started very late (19 December 2018) so that Partner 2 ATI could not finish its KAM activities in WP 1 (KAM). The support will continue in 2019.
• Due to the rising interest of companies in the offered advising innovation services of SFZ has overachieved the planned number of EIMC cases.
Impact for SME
• Detailed analysis of company’s status quo in terms of their market position, finance, personnel, innovation processes, internationalization, etc.
• Detection of weaknesses or deficits in innovation management process of clients
• Recommendations to overcome these weaknesses and development of tailormade action plans
• Targeted actions (mentoring and coaching) being taken to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs sustainably
• growing integrated service provision to the SMEs under COSME
• Major steps towards business development for internationalization in the EU and third countries

Impact for EEN
• Promotion of EEN services and development of SMEs potential to further engagement with EEN
• Improved collaboration with regional service providers for regional development support
• Learning from EIMC experiences and further adapt the tools to regional needs to improve the professionalism of the services
• Success stories of SME instrument will increase awareness of the program and EEN services