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Services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's and Key Account Management in Niedersachsen

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - N-Supp_INNO-19 (Services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's and Key Account Management in Niedersachsen)

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

Within the N-Supp Inno project, the Enterprise Europe Network consortium in Lower-Saxony helps companies (SMEs) to bring innovative ideas to commercial success on international markets. Innovation support services are open to all kinds of businesses. Our network experts are there to assess which services are best suited to the specific development phase of the business: Innovation awareness, innovation capacity building and innovation management.
Within this N-Supp Inno project, the partners focus on innovation capacity building and innovation management. Our services include:
• innovation audits
• strategy advice
• advice on technology marketing
• advice on access to finance for innovation
• links with local innovation stakeholders
Regarding the innovation management, we help companies to adapt their business plan, manage their innovation activities and align their innovation strategy with other business processes.
N-Supp-Inno experts
• perform an innovation management capacity and gaps assessment (NBank innovation audit or innovation health check) in close cooperation with the senior management
• develop an action plan with the client to tackle identified gaps
• help to implement the action plan
• indicate paths for further development
Furthermore, the EEN Lower-Saxony experts provided key account management services to businesses benefitting from the Horizon 2020 SME instrument. We
• help beneficiaries identify coaching needs and select suitable business coaches
• facilitate the coaching process
• empower beneficiaries to successfully conclude their project
• plan the next development phase
The consortium consists of two partners – NBank and Leibniz Universität Hannover. Partner 3 (FHOS) was unfortunately not able to carry out the three planned audits due to unexpected changes in staff: These changes resulted in a lack of capacity regarding EIMC services. Partner FHOS therefore does not apply for funding regarding N-Supp-Inno 2020-2021 services and does not claim for funding for N-Supp_INNO-19.
The consortium conducted 21 EIMC (Enhancement of Innovation Management capacities) services (NBank: 18, LUH: 3) and four KAM services (NBank).
KAM Services and promotion of H2020 / EIC programs
During the project period, more than 1000 companies from Lower Saxony were informed about the funding opportunities of the SME-instrument via info mailings and information events. To highlight one activity to promote the SME Instrument: One of our yearly promotion activities is the regular “Annual Network Meeting”. In 2019, we had 15 Exhibitors, 20 Elevator pitches and more than 100 Participants. The response to the event was very positive.
About 70 companies received detailed information and individual advice about the SME Instrument. From these 70 companies receiving individual advice and information, 20 companies prepared and submitted a proposal for the SME-Instrument while receiving intensive support by the N-Supp Inno consortium. Out of the eight submitted proposals, four cases where selected for funding (Inscreenex GmbH, Naturstofftechnik GmbH, Trace Analytics GmbH, Energy &Meteo GmbH) which means that there is a deviation from the expected number of funded cases for the period of the NSupp_INNO-19 contract (eight were planned). The issue that is leading to the low number of beneficiaries in Lower Saxcony is the low success rate for the SME Instrument in general. Many companies step back from writing a proposal due to the low success rate.
EIMC services
In 2019 the consortium executed 21 EIMC services, six cases less than planned. This refers mainly to the withdrawal of Partner 3 (FHOS) and a minor underperformance at Partner 1 (NBANK). Another reason may be the short time period of this reporting period (one year instead of two). Some clients have agreed to participate in 2020.
Nonetheless, the Enterprise Europe Network Innovation Management service was noticed and recognised in our region and within the host organisations. Cooperations with regional networks and stakeholders were strengthened.
There is a smooth and well rehearsed signposting, respectively cooperation between staff working on EIMC and / or COSME activities. This counts for advisory, marketing during events, public relations, cooperation with regional stakeholders and so on.
Direct impact is documented in the Merlin system. To summarise main impacts, these are securing or creation of working places, improvements of the innovation management structure and processes in the companies, helping to define and develop strategies in terms of digitalisation and business model innovation. During the audits or as a follow-up of the audits and EIMC services, we cooperated with regional stakeholders: regional public bodies, innovation managers of the chambers of trade and industry, the Innovationszentrum Niedersachsen ( with its networks and the federal initiative called Further impacts were the detection of new technologies and markets, integration of technology, marketing innovation.
The EIMC and KAM services are very value-added services of the EEN and an important stage within the client journey of a SME in Lower-Saxony supported by the Enterprise Europe Network.
More than 80% of the audited companies were interested in additional services. These were offered by the members of the consortium either in the framework of activities and consulting services for the Enterprise Europe Network, or against the background of their respective host organizations and their inherent activities.
In coherence with the scale up activities and project, EEN Lower Saxony strengthened cooperation with accelerators, start-ups centres and won several start-up companies ready to grow internationally as clients. EIMC services were served to several young companies and a continious cooperation between the NBank Start-Up and Equity Department and the EEN is established. This has enabled us to build up expertise in the area of blended finance - new financing approaches in Horizon 2020.
Quite a high number of EIMC cases led together with internationalisation services to ASOs. Further services provided were:
- Access to finance
- Identification of suitable national and/or international distributors
- Identification of partners for joint development activities
- Identification of regional/ national support programs and funding schemes
During the recent project period, the project consortium managed to provide complex management enhancement support actions to 25 EIMC/KAM clients from Lower Saxony in total. These consulting services assisted the benefitting SMEs to increase their knowhow, helped them to strengthen their entrepreneurial competitiveness and thus, their market position leading up to an increase of job security and an improved socioeconomic milieu in Niedersachsen.
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