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Establishment of Services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's through the Enterprise Europe Network Ireland

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IRL-SME-Innovation (Establishment of Services enhancing the innovation management capacity of SME's through the Enterprise Europe Network Ireland)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-12-31

32 Innovation Health Check (IHC) engagements were carried out over the period of the contract. This exceeded the target of 30 IHC engagements. The Covid 19 pandemic and the retirement of 2 key account managers presented challenges for delivery of the contract. With the outbreak of COVID 19 in March 2020, all travel and company visits were deferred and company engagements moved online. This approach continued for the remainder of the contract and KAM service provision adapted well to the new environment. Companies were generally happy to continue the process online & it led to the development of innovation roadmaps for companies. Coach selection continued to work well using the coaching database and the methodology employed. The EEN KAM team deepened its engagement with Irish Horizon National Contact Points. A wide spectrum of both horizon and business related brokerage events were availed of by the client base. Key highlights following IHC engagement included several companies achieving new or additional funding under the EIC, active participation in partnering events by the majority of clients, and identification of new international business partners. The KAM team will continue to provide additional EEN services to this highly innovative client base as the coaching contracts are completed in 2022.
32 Innovation Health Check engagements were carried out over period of the contract consisting of:
- 5 Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) Sessions
- 3 EIMC (Enhancing Innovation Management Capacities) Sessions
- 15 IHC sessions with companies benefiting from SME Instrument funding under European Innovation Council (EIC)
- 4 Seal of Excellence companies arising from SME Instrument programme
- 5 Companies participated in revised IHC Pilot (compliant with the Innovation Management ISO standard 5600).
With the outbreak of Covid 19, March 2020 all travel and company visits were deferred with company engagments moved online. This approach continued for remainder of contract in line with Public Health advice issued by Government of Ireland.
Of the 25 virtual sessions, 14 SMEs were beneficiaries of EIC SME Instrument funding and 2 SMEs were beneficiaries of FTI programme. 5 SMEs were involved in a pilot of the updated Enterprise Ireland Innovation Health Check (IHC) benchmarking tool which is both compliant and aligned with new ISO Standard in Innovation Management ISO 5600. Finally, 4 SMEs received the ‘Seal of Excellence’ label under EIC and SME Funding Instruments. Of the 25 companies Enterprise Ireland worked with virtually, 2 companies decided not to take up coaching.
Over period of contract, EEN team has further enhanced its relationship with Irish Horizon National Contact Points to provide EEN support services and brokeraging where appropriate. As a result, a number of collaborative brokerage events with EEN team and National Contact Points have taken place. All 32 companies involved in KAM and EIMC Services were invited to attend. As a result, 10 companies have partcipated as Partners across international consortia as well as applying for European funding under Horizon 2020 (including Advanced Manufacturing and the European Green Deal call) and Horizon Europe.
2 companies that participated in a Eureka Eurostars brokerage event organised by EEN Ireland (Eurostars Funding Webinar and Brokerage Event June 11th, 2020) found potential Partners, submitted a collaborative international application and gained approval for funding at international/national funding committees. Projects have commenced and both are registered as ASOs. ASOIE20210223001 project entitled “A New Eelectrodeposited coating based on sol-gel technology - Kastus Technologies Ltd” and ASOIE20210222001 project entitled “Intelligent Management System for Smart Hybrid Fleets - Combilift Ltd”.
In general, the IHC benchmarking tool is received well by SMEs. It informs a conversation around topics that are not necessarily openly discussed. It assists companies to discuss difficult or challenging areas of the business that might otherwise not be prioritised. Having different employees or managers from several areas of the business involved in the process, increases inclusion, increases engagement, openness and ultimately brings innovative ideas to the table from across the company. During Covid 19, working virtually proved rewarding and challenging (see challenges and opportunities above). Companies were generally happy to continue the process online.
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