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Development of new approach for supporting the application of the Open Innovation in SMEs through the Peer-to-Peer leering

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InnTense (Development of new approach for supporting the application of the Open Innovation in SMEs through the Peer-to-Peer leering)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-03-31

Open innovation has been embedded in the innovation strategies by many large corporations, often motivated by market-related arguments, e.g. meeting customer demands or driven by needs such as collecting new ideas/knowledge, improving innovative performances, securing continuous growth and financial security. On the other side, smaller businesses are still facing a spectrum of specific challenges when accepting and implementing Open innovation models in their businesses. Organizational and cultural barriers, limited resources in terms of available funds, time and skills, misinterpretation of the market/customer requirements are some of the main barriers why SMEs are not encouraged to easily accept this approach. It is still the common case that SMEs are relying on their internal-oriented practices and acting only in limed ranges (frequently only in the own business sectors), where the potentials for innovation-related information flows and collaboration opportunities are usually limited in all terms.
As it is evident that innovation developments are shifting from the linear bilateral relations towards the dynamic networks and multi-collaborative innovation environments, the innovations are not more the outcomes of the isolated and stand-alone activates, but rather a consequence of complex processes involving flows across the entire economic and social mediums. Recognising the importance for redirecting towards the new business options and at the same time aiming at boosting the incentives supporting the implementation of Open innovation models by SMEs, InnTense Project is oriented towards the exploration of the current trends related to the Open innovation practices and the development of a method which will offer comprehensive support in overcoming the barriers for successful application of the Open innovation models and its deployment on the broader levels.
Three Innovation agencies applied the peer leering, aimed at setting up the consistent methodology for the innovation support for SMEs and simultaneously allow the establishment of the permanent learning instrument which can be applied by other Innovation agencies, providing the same or similar innovation support services. These objectives were achieved by integrating empirical findings based on analysis of the best practice examples and drawing attention to future agenda to facilitate and support the OI in SMEs. The results have been documented at the Design Option Paper which identifies and document implementation options, guidelines and alternatives acknowledged by the InnTense partners and provide the recommendations for the other innovation support agencies.
InnTense Project intended to respond effectively to the SME innovation challenge by implementing the peer learning process (Twinning Advanced methodology) for Innovation agencies. The work developed during the InnTense project enabled the three participating Innovation agencies to learn to develop an innovative, comprehensive and improved approach to innovation support to SMEs, especially focusing on the implementation of the Open Innovation concepts - by the Innovation agencies and by the SMEs.
At the Project start the current state analysis of the application of Open innovation concepts have been performed by the project partners. This analysis refereed to regional/national relevant data and it included the screening of the regional /national programs as well as a presentation of the best practice examples how the Open innovation is currently used and what are the benefits provided by their concept. In the next step the survey has been conducted in order to collect the information related to the main factors which are allowing and factors hindering SMEs and Intermediary organizations to apply Open innovation approaches. In this scope, two questionnaires have been developed for two main stakeholder groups. The survey included the questions related to the most important factors of the Open innovation (e.g. application of the existing tools, phases for implementation, significance of the cultural environment, etc.) and best practice examples (establishment of networks, business-customer relations). The collected data have been analysed using the methods of descriptive statistics and the related evaluation of latter has been included in the InnTense Design option Paper.
Based on the theoretical research, current state analysis, results of the conducted survey and outcomes of the applied Twining advanced methodology, InnTense Design Option Paper has been designed as the final result of the InnTense Project. The DOP is giving the hypothetical outline related to the innovation processes in SMEs, focusing on Open innovation in the first part. The second part of the document is dealing with the results of the practical work implemented during the InnTense project - status quo analysis in the Partner regions, description of the identified challenges and solutions propositions. The final part is relating to recommendations aimed to the main stakeholders that this document is oriented to – Innovation support agencies and Regional authorities, which are designing and implementation innovation support programs for SMEs and lessons learned by the implementation of the InnTense project.
Besides, one of the central objectives of the Project was to provide the recommendations for the organizations responsible for designing and applying the innovation support programmers and policies especially designated to the SMEs. The provided recommendations are aimed to facilitate the improvement of the innovation support systems and programmes for SMEs in general and to make the services offered to the SMEs more effective and accessible.
Innovation is a key driver of productivity and long-term growth and can help solve social challenges at the lowest possible cost, (OECD (2015a), “Do Policies that Boost Aggregate Growth Generate Economic Instability for Individuals?”
InnTense project resulted in the delivery of wider model for the use of Open innovation model by the SMEs and it advocates the Quadruple Helix actor approach. This means that even though the innovation support model is intended to the SMEs, inclusion of the Citizens in the traditional Innovation ecosystems constituted from Academia, Private sector/Industry and Public Authorities, at this point play an important role. In the case of Open Innovation, instead of the user/citizen being seen as a research object, the citizen and user become an integral part of the innovation process. Due to this strong orientation towards the individual and society needs in general, in Open innovation concepts, instead of focussing on a product or services features, developers are focusing more on the user experience and shared values and vision. Furthermore, co-creation and social innovations are also the concepts that are including all stakeholders (citizens, users, customers) in the development of innovative solutions and motivated by the goal of meeting social needs. Taking this aspects in account, InnTense choose to address importance of design of the Open innovation approaches as Innovation support programmes, in this constitution of innovation ecosystems is the future.