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Enhancing innovation management capacity of SMEs in Republika Srpska

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EUNORS (Enhancing innovation management capacity of SMEs in Republic of Srpska)

Período documentado: 2017-03-01 hasta 2018-12-31

During the reporting period 2018-2018 EUNORS rolled out implementation of the Enhancing innovation management capacity of SME companies in Republic of Srpska. After a slow start, we managed to significantly improve our performance during 2018 and deliver EIMC services to 36 companies.
Slow start was linked to complying with formal requirements the program, establishing contractual relations and transferring the funds among partners and attending required IMP3rove methodology training.
Regardless, by the end of 2018 we managed to onboard 36 companies into the program, complete 17 planned cases and start 19 cases, so we are entering 2019 with excellent base for further program advancements.
As expected we faced all the foreseen risks such as problems with onboarding of the clients, conflicts between the dynamics of overall EUNORS work program in relation to the needs of this program, issues with implementation of action plans, issues with availability and dedication of clients resources towards the implementation of recommendations. Also some unforeseen issues came to light during the implementation, such as issues with suitability and relevance of the content of the IMP3rove assessment questionnaire and connected usability of the benchmarking reports. Strategies to mitigate foreseen risks proved to be effective to varying degrees of success and with mixed results, so new strategies where planned for the 2019 program.
This action relates to Horizon 2020 topic Innovation in SMEs under Other actions (Specific activities in the context of innovation support (H2020), in particularly the component: “Enhancing the innovation management capacity of SMEs” in the Enterprise Europe Network.
As identified by both COSME and Horizon programs, in Europe, and more specifically geographic area covered by EUNORS, SMEs face a number of internal and external constraints, particularly “lack of financial resources” and “inability to manage innovation processes efficiently and effectively”. To tackle these constraints, EUNROS focuses on providing customized EIMC expert support to SMEs in our target area, to a predefined number of beneficiaries with high potential for growth and internationalization.
"Expected final results and their potential impact, including the socio-economic impact and wider societal implications of the action so far is to ""significantly enhance growth and profitability"" of SMEs companies through the EIMC services, so we expect that in terms of the market growth 16 beneficiaries will reach new market/s, while 15 will bringing new/improved products to the market, 25 jobs will be created, quality improvements are expected at 15 clients in terms of improved goods/services and 17 in terms of improvements of client/business partner satisfaction, also improvement of company’s environment records, working conditions and/or health and safety standards is expected for 13 clients.
Generally we achieved significantly more impact in the areas of market improvement and quality improvements and significantly less impact on overall innovation capacities improvements and job creation, than expected.
Improvement of market position and quality of goods and services was expected to be relevant to 5 companies on average per category, but it was relevant to 15 beneficiaries. Cost savings related impact was mostly on point, however we expected innovation management related improvement to be equally relevant to all 38 clients, but it was relevant only to 20. The biggest difference, caused by lack of funding within companies, was in significantly lower achieved vs. planned impact of the program in relation to new jobs creation and new technology acceptance.
This is consistent with our observation that companies seam to be oriented to incremental and classical types of innovations, in other words in direct improvements of products, services and processes, than long term strategy development and management capacity building type of activities, and that they are more interested in implementing projects with more immediate impact.
As foreseen, we had no beneficiaries of SME Instrument during the reporting period, and since the delivery of the Key Account Management services is tied to this we weren’t able to provide this service. Since this was caused by insufficient number and quality of applicants from Republic of Srpska, we directed our attention towards promoting SME Instrument and building capacities of our companies. This was realized through organization of a workshops, promotional activities and working with companies directly through EUNORS advisory services as well as putting emphasis on implementing EIMC services.
Synergies with COSME and Implementation strategy with this program, where significant, and influence went both ways.
Clients using EIMC services came from the pull of clients using broader EUNORS services, which we deem to be a successful approach to implementing both parts of the program and to provide more holistic and impactful services. Relevant COSME based services include providing innovation support services, information and advisory services including mentoring, coaching and partner search activities for SMEs wishing to develop innovation projects.
EEN Client journey approach, meant that EEN staff looked out for potential candidates for EIMC services and identifys potential candidates for the SME Instrument. Once the potential candidates were identified, we devised a client journey plan for the company that focused either on building their capacity for innovation or on assisting the company to apply for funding if they have a concrete project appropriate for application to SME Instrument funding. For clients in early stages of building innovation capacity we provided relevant advisory and partnering service or directed them towards EIMC, for more advanced clients we provided advisory access to finance services.
Overall, even though there is room for improvement, we are satisfied with out progress, and we believe that these service have had significant impact on our client base and that for the upcoming period with lessons learned and new strategies put in place, the program will be very important addition to EUNORS tool belt.