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Development and testing of the European Innovation Audit tool for Social Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DepoSIt (Development and testing of the European Innovation Audit tool for Social Innovation)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

There is a growing demand for Innovation support agencies to constantly adapt and modernise their innovation support programmes for SMEs (in order to achieve the anticipated impact from the innovation support actions) and on the other side to demonstrate the effectiveness of such schemes (in order to secure the satisfaction of the beneficiaries with the provided support). By the development of the significantly improved Innovation Audit tool, the consortium will firstly deliver an innovation support scheme for SMEs, focusing on the exploitation of the innovation capacities, simultaneously addressing one of the key points of the future development of SMEs – Social Innovation.
DepoSIt Project objective is to develop and test a significantly improved Innovation Audit tool by applying so far modestly used methodology for the Policy experimentation – Randomised Control Trials (RCTs), providing in this way innovation support for the SME sector and allowing simultaneously direct impact assessment of the newly designed Innovation support scheme.
The project is driven by the significance of interrelations between the enhancement of innovation capacities of the SMEs and inclusion of the Social Innovations in this process, in order to facilitate the future economic developments of the companies. Thus, the Project objective for the first reporting period is to develop and initiate the testing for the new Innovation Audit tool by the Randomised Control Trials. The improved Innovation Audit tool developed during the first reporting period combines the standard techniques for boosting the innovation capacities with additional measures for identification and fostering of Social Innovation potentials of SMEs. The RCT process is ongoing at the date of this report.
During the first reporting period most of the Milestones of the project were reached. In this sense, the partners achieved the initial estimations related to recruitment process (the agreed number of minimum SMEs), but also the KPIs related to the communication and dissemination of the project.
Activities in the different work packages are explained below.
- WP1 addresses the administrative and financial management of the project. Main progress achieved in this period concerns both:
- the establishment of the management plan for the project, alongside with the templates related to the day-to-day management, the set-up and organisation of the internal project communication and implementation progress via regular virtual meetings, quality check of results and in general the technical and financial monitoring and reporting.
- the project management activities in line with the planned project management.
To facilitate the easier exchange between project partners, the documentation and the transfer of up-to-date project results, DepoSIt partners use project management tool – EMDESK.

- WP2, coordinated by BDF, focuses on three different segments – analysis of the best practice of Innovation support schemes implemented in DepoSIt Partner countries, bringing the Social Innovation concept in Innovation support ecosystem for SMEs by the organisation of the Policy dialog events and elaboration of the policy recommendations regarding the cooperation between Innovation agencies and business in the field of smart health, smart mobility, smart living. During the first twelve months of the Project implementation, the focus has been on the research and analysis of the existing innovation support schemes (used Innovation Audit tools) as well on the preparation and start of implementation of two types of the Policy dialog events – Cross Fertilisation WS and Business breakfast.

- WP3, coordinated by ADRSM, focuses on the development of the improved Innovation Audit tool, including the Social Innovation dimension. The work in this WP started with the analysis of the Innovation Audit tools used by the DepoSIt Partners and doing the desk research regarding the Social innovation and definition of the indictors to be integrated in the tool. In this way, the background for the development of in improved tool has been prepared and the engagement of the external experts in the phase of the tool development and for the validation has been considered. Simultaneously with activities regarding the development of the Innovation Audit tool, in the frame of the WP3, the preliminary programme for the Twinning activities among the DepoSIt Partners has been discussed among the responsible partners.

- WP4 Objectives for the period M3-M18 were to design a robust policy experimentation protocol using the RCT methodology to test a newly developed Innovation Audit Tool for SMEs developed in WP3 on a cohort of minimum 60 SMEs SMEs (82 SMEs sent their expression of interest and 72 gave consent to randomization). During the period the Innovation Audit Tool was expected to be tested and validated with the final aim to boost the exploitation of the innovation potential with the inclusion of social innovation aspects by the addressed companies.

-WP5, coordinated by SEZ with the strong support of CCE, summarizes all tasks related to project communication, dissemination, exploitation and collaboration with other initiatives. Actions under this WP were kicked-off with the definition of a Corporate Identity and the elaboration of a communication and dissemination strategy, both presented at the kick-off meeting in Stuttgart. Core promotion materials such as a project brochure in English, a project website and templates for public presentations on the project were established during M1-M12. Further activities regarding the communication and dissemination included the publication of the first and second newsletters (M6 and M18), the project’s promotion through dedicated social media accounts (Facebook, twitter + LinkedIN) as well as the presentation of the project at (inter-)national events by several partners.

- WP6 concerns the ethical guidance of the project. The partners outlined in several deliverables how the project will ensure the protection of data from stakeholders collected within project, the appropriate consideration of ecological sustainability and biodiversity in all activities as well as the prevention of a potential misuse of project’s results against those.
The implemented activities in the first reporting period have a positive impact not only for the 6 countries involved through the partners in the project. The methodologies and concepts, the tools and the good practices transferred and disseminated at EU level through the policy dialogue (described in WP2) and other communication and dissemination activities support the emergence of ideas of radical innovation by working in groups made up of people of scientific, technical and social culture.
The development of the new Innovation Audit tool brings the Social innovation concept closer to both SMEs and Innovation Agencies. In this new COVID-19 pandemic situation, when social aspects are getting more attention, companies also need to add to their innovation strategies important social aspects, no matter the industry or profile. The treatment activities in this context offer proactive and on-demand support to the SMEs towards innovation dialogue. In the end of the process, the framework for innovation and cooperation between the Innovation Agencies and the SMEs will be further improved.