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enhancing Innovation and Key Account Management by sme2EU

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - I-KAM2EU (enhancing Innovation and Key Account Management by sme2EU)

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

Innovation is a key driver for the success of SMEs. Lack of innovation management capacity is recognised as an important barrier to creating economic impact (competitiveness, growth and jobs) from innovation activities in SMEs. Consulting services enhancing the innovation management capacity are not available to SMEs. SMEs need support to develop an internal environment (culture, attitude, organization, procedures, methods, tools) able to exploit innovation and turn it into competitive improvement.
The main objective of I-KAM2EU was to make available the opportunity for SMEs to have a structured support to develop and maintain an internal innovation management system to facilitate their growth of competitiveness and cross-border partnerships. It can allow SMEs to become more innovative and to achieve more success with their product, service, process, organisational design and business model innovation. This would foster SME results, value and competitiveness.
The project was developed by the partners of SME2EU, the Enterprise Europe Network consortium for the three Italian regions Marche, Tuscany and Umbria.
Two kinds of services were addressed:
1. Key Account Management (KAM) service, for beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, Fet Open and Fast Track to Innovation. It includes assistances to identify gaps and suitable coaches, and support their work to improve SME’s strategies and approaches to facilitate the exploitation of the founded project.
2. Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC) service, for SMEs with significant innovation activities and concrete potential for international growth (about product, process, service or business model innovation) but with low expertise to manage innovation activities. It consists of an innovation management capacity assessment, a gap analysis and the provision of an action plan to address recognised gaps.
I-KAM2EU implemented the two services in close collaboration between all partners and in connection with the activities developed by all the partners themselves as EEN members, about the promotion of the services, the identification of candidates for EIMC service and the suggestion of further targeted opportunities for companies.
The partners agreed common operating procedures for the two services. They worked on a regional basis. Inside Tuscany and Marche where two active partners were involved, SME Instrument beneficiaries were equally allocated among the partners. Partners have informed each other about contacts for EIMC services, too.
About KAM services, the activities have been constrained in the times and numbers from the results of the participation of local companies at the SME Instruments cut-offs. In the three regions covered by the project, in 2017-2018 there was no SME benefiting Open FET or Fast Track to Innovation actions.
I-KAM2EU has provided 26 KAM services, for:
• 20 beneficiaries of SME Instrument Phase 1, of which 14 closed cases;
• 6 beneficiaries of SME Instrument Phase 2, of which 5 closed cases.
The total number of completed cases (19) is significantly lower (-47%) than the target defined in the project budget, due to the strong diminution of the beneficiaries in Tuscany and Umbria, despite the efforts of the partners to promote the call and support the companies in the presentation of the proposals. The other 7 cases will be completed in 2019
On the other hand, no company has given up the coaching, and all the clients were very satisfied with the results of the service.

About EIMC services, the experience gained in previous years favoured the selection and active involvement of companies, although there are still difficulties for companies to invest economic resources in the proposed improvement plans. The involvement of numerous companies allowed to allocate on EIMC the resources left free by the reduced action on the KAMs.
I-KAM2EU has provided 64 EIMC services, of which 53 cases completed by the end of 2018, overperforming the target of 50 cases in the biennium.
IHC has been used in almost all assessments, because the small dimension of the clients. In only one case, IMP3rove was used.

The total number of services was 90 (26 KAMs and 64 EIMCs), of which 48% in Tuscany, 28% in Marche and 24% in Umbria.

The total number of involved clients was 86, because two companies achieved both KAM and EIMC services, and two others used both KAM services (for Phase 1 and Phase 2).
Direct impact from the two actions was the improvement of innovation management in SMEs receiving the services as compared to their initial situation. I-KAM2EU successfully provided 87 services to 83 different companies, helping in their growth and profitability paths.
The real impacts generated by the project will be measurable in the medium period, in terms of improvement of the competitiveness and innovation capacities of SMEs and their ability to better act and evolve in the market.
The dissemination and communication activities were provided in close synergy with the SME2EU project and partners web-site, e-mailing, workshop, meetings, brochures. It increased the awareness of SMEs about the relationship between the innovation management processes and the market competitiveness.
Performing the services, I-KAM2EU offered to each client the most relevant and interesting EEN COSME services, useful to meet its specific needs. i.e. access to finance, European funds, trans-national collaborations. KAMs proposed Phase 3 activities to beneficiaries, involving 5 clients in the participation to Business Acceleration Services. For SMEs receiving the Seal of Excellence no specific support was delivered because at regional and national level no instrument was really available case of Seal of Excellence.
Three partners participated to the national EEN Working Group KAM/EICM proved as a useful tool for sharing experiences.
Moreover, several staff people followed training courses on IMP3rove and on Innovation Health Check, also transferring the knowledge learned to colleagues of the other partners.
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