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Optimizing Support for Innovating SMEs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - OaSIS (Optimizing Support for Innovating SMEs)

Reporting period: 2018-12-15 to 2019-12-14

OaSIS is a SME segmentation methodology and tool for Regional Development Agencies that identifies the fast growing innovative SMEs enabling data-driven approach unlike standard innovation support evaluations.

The objective of OaSIS project is to increase the necessity and technical possibilities of creating a coherent and intelligent digital tool for SMEs segmentation, with the support of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) databases. Such tool would allow RDAs to better monitor the financial and innovation support processes to SMEs and better classify their regional population of SMEs in specific interest categories for the region, such as its RIS3 smart specialisation strategy. As a result, the digitally supported methodology contributes to making regional support more productive by tracking the companies’ development before, during, and after their support and by contributing to a higher level of characterisation of the industrial activity.
The SMEs with the highest innovation potential by enabling RDAs with data-driven decision tools, more tailor-made innovation support instruments can be designed, and impact assessment performed, both from a qualitative point of view (e.g. classification based on companies’ assets and merits in key areas for the region) and quantitative point of view (e.g. financial performance and indicators).

The OaSIS project aims to fill the gap in the innovation support and management knowledge through:

(1) Analysis of the existing approaches to SME segmentation and innovation support measures used by the RDAs throughout Europe,
(2) Detailed studies of the performance of innovating SMEs, in response to the specific support they had received,
(3) and creation of a unified, performance-based methodology for SME segmentation and improved targeting with existing support schemes.
(4) Unique data analysis software tool will lead to the discovery of hidden patterns and correlations among innovating SMEs, that lead to their success and highest societal and economic impact.
The consortium strategy has been divided into five main areas of interest:

• Strategy for identifying target audience and involving them in the consortium activities. The foundation of the strategy is created through the mobilization of the ecosystem created by the European Association of Regional Development Agencies. Basic information has been collected in a structured way and played a central role in the introduction of SME segmentation concept to wide Regional Development Agencies public.

• Strategy for data acquisition dealing with Big Data analysis taking into account different possible data types, different situation in Member States and varying willingness of the Agencies to share data. The main objective was to assess the data resources available internally in RDAs and define the scope of missing data which could be completed by external providers. This strategy has given fruitful results with a full range on indicators needed for the analysis.

• Strategy for benchmarking of RDAs activities in order to complete the data driven analysis with best practices studies directly from the field. That area was mainly driven by face-to-face interviews conducted by EURADA team. The RDAs participating in Open Call could fit into this activity even without data sharing component. The essential output is a compilation of good practices developed by EURADA and handed out to its members.

• Strategy for creation of practical tools capitalizing the project results and giving and added value to RDAs community in EU and beyond. In this area the consortium wanted to make sure that all the research and innovation results achieved in the project can be used by wide RDAs community and create a sustainable and easy to implement SME segmentation activity. In this field as 3 main outputs we can consider:

- The Portal OaSIS – – the practical segmentation software tool created by Linknovate. All 3rd parties which contributed to it have received a royality free access for the period of 4 years after the project conclusion.
- Tailor-made reports analysing their innovative SMEs ecosystems that will be sent to each 3rd party.
- The algorithms automatizing the SME analysis foreseen as Open Source to be used by any Regional Development Agency.

• Strategy for active and passive marketing of consortium activities (website, workshops, seminars, conferences). Current strategies for improvement of the partners’ visibility will be the main targets for the activities after the incorporation of 3rd parties on board. Preliminary strategy for achieving a long-term impact on regional entrepreneurship support ecosystems and achieving project sustainability is being projected via Exploitation activities. This strategy is aiming at commercial exploitation of Portal OaSIS software that can be acquired by Regional Development Agencies not linked to the project.
Optimising techniques of regional SMEs’ segmentation is a necessary condition for Europe's development based on smart, permanent and inclusive solutions provided by companies’ innovations. The support given by regional institutions, for instance, RDAs to companies from the SME sector should be combined with the identification of SME groups with the most significant innovation potential (growth potential, internationalisation, innovativeness) and with assigning dedicated tools of regional support to them. Application of the OaSIS Portal tool will help to optimise European resources intended for innovation in the SMEs sector. Current challenge combines benchmarking of regional pro-innovative instruments for SMEs and the analysis of databases of beneficiaries of these measures, to improve the effectiveness of the assistance funds management. Only such a solution can lead to effective spending of resources on innovation.

OaSIS methodology and algorithms, can assist innovation support providers in the analysis of the landscape of SMEs present in their region. Together with automated, numerical tools, they allow for the automated analysis of the very large datasets and the identification of key SME segments. In addition, the semantic analysis performed by the OaSIS portal and the aggregated about innovation signals, such as grants, or patents, allow for the through analysis and targeting the most important SMEs with the support instruments best suited to their needs. However, all these actions depend strongly on the availability of the data. Our project shows, that even the most basic economic indicators, such as turnover and employment, can be extremely useful in the segmentation of the client base of the RDAs and ultimately lead to the increased effectiveness of the public money spending.

In conclusion, our results and the developed methodology show, that key performance indicators could lead to the economic growth of Europe and the optimization of support provided for innovative SMEs. However, in order to be able to achieve this, regional and national support organizations should start gathering information about the performance of the supported entities over at least several years after the support was provided. This might require changes on a policymaking level, but could be the key for improving European innovativeness and Europe’s place in a changing world.
OaSIS consortium