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Innovating Hessian SMEs towards Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - InnoHessen2Europe_19 (Innovating Hessian SMEs towards Europe)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Enterprises succeeding as growth champions tend to have a significantly better innovation management along the whole value chain from idea generation to market entry. This issue was the main idea behind the project InnoHessen2Europe implemented by Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH (HTAI), the coordinator of EEN Hessen. The project was embedded in the Consultation of Enterprise Europe Network for 2019 H2020 activities.
The overall objective of this action was to advise innovative SMEs with a high potential for growth and internationalisation to improve their innovation value chain by enhancing their innovation management capacity and to contribute to a successful implementation of the projects supported in the context of the European Innovation Council pilot. Beneficiaries of the funding schemes SME Instrument, Future Emerging Technologies Open and Fast Track to Innovation were assisted with dedicated Key Account Management (KAM) services. Other SMEs with significant innovation activities and high potential for international growth were supported in a specific process of Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC).
The services delivered have contributed to a balanced business and technology development of clients consulted, resulting in an increased competitiveness and growth. Thus, they are likely to strengthen their ability to perform well in the European Single Market and outside. The objective therefore supports the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of activation of SMEs’ business potential.
Hessian beneficiaries of the SME Instrument, Future Emerging Technologies Open and Fast Track to Innovation were supported with Key Account Management (KAM). EEN Hessen assessed their gaps and challenges, identified suitable coaches, facilitated the interaction between the coaches and the SMEs and responded to further needs by additional support measures. The overall aim was to enable those companies to conduct their innovation projects successfully and thus to contribute to their commercial growth. EEN Hessen supported ten SMEI beneficiaries, two out of them financed under SMEI Phase 2. Furthermore, EEN innovation experts took care of Hessian companies awarded SMEI Seal of Excellence and SMEI Phase 1 beneficiaries by helping them to approach other sources of funding. Bringing companies with investors was also facilitated by canvassing KAM clients to use the Business Acceleration Services and EEN services offered in the framework of the COSME project.
Further Hessian SMEs with significant innovation activities and a high potential for growth and internationalisation were supported in the separate service Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC). EEN Hessen assessed their gaps and needs, developed together with the SMEs suitable action plans and facilitated their implementation. With these activities, complemented by a wide range of further EEN services, HTAI contributed to increasing the competitiveness of Hessian SMEs and strengthening their ability to operate successfully in the European Single Market and outside.
The action was conducted by EEN Hessen innovation experts, all senior staff experienced in innovation management. They used the „Innovation Health Check“ by Enterprise Ireland as a CEN/TS 16555-1 tool to assess the innovation management capacity of Hessian clients and to identify needs to be responded to. Six Hessian companies were supported comprehensively to improve their innovation management system or to establish first elements of such a system in their companies.
The services helped the clients to define priorities and to tackle challenges in their innovation process. This should support conducting the innovation projects successfully. In the KAM case the support should result in a smoother transition into the phase 2 of the project and to other sources of financing. Further expected results are a higher commitment to a structured innovation management and a stronger involvement of the staff into the innovation process.
The project contributes to the aims of the Europe 2020 strategy in terms of increasing business and innovation performance of SMEs.
The EEN Hessen assisted ten companies within the KAM process in 2019, eight of them beneficiaries of Phase 1 and two beneficiaries of Phase 2 of the SME Instrument. Three cases out of them are still in progress. In line with the client journey concept of the network, there is a close synergy between the services within the COSME financed EEN project and the KAM process starting from the advisory and application support for EIC Accelerator funding schemes through discussing evaluation results, analysing client’s needs for the project implementation, defining necessary steps for the project and beyond, facilitating the coach-SME interaction, supporting the Phase 2 and EIC pilot applications and advisory on alternative finance sources as well as on Business Acceleration Services.
Within the EIMC process EEN Hessen advised six companies in 2019, three cases still being in progress. In general, the service has a positive impact especially in terms of improving the company’s position on the market, increasing the added value associated with the product or service, developing the potential to enter new markets, improving the quality of the product or service and increasing clients’ satisfaction. Finally, the service contributes to improving the innovation strategy and innovation management capacities of the client companies. Following a client-centric approach, the service is interlinked with the COSME activities and anchored within a hub-and-spoke model of EEN Hessen. Most of the clients use the advice on funding schemes and on internationalisation and use EEN’s support in finding international partners and strengthening the regional network.
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