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Enhancing INNovation managament capacity of CATalan small and medium enterprises 2020 – 2021

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNCAT2021 (Enhancing INNovation managament capacity of CATalan small and medium enterprises 2020 – 2021)

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

The call for proposals “Enhancing the innovation management capacity of SMEs” proposed the offering of assessment, mentoring and coaching services to SMEs with the objective of increasing and accelerating the economic returns from innovation.
Through the project INNCAT2021, ACCIÓ has managed in 2020 the following innovation services in the region of Catalonia to 115 SME executing 43,6% of their target (110 complete cases):
-71 KAM services, consisting in offering support in the coach selection with the objective to help the company to become more innovative, were offered to 100% of Catalan beneficiaries of the EIC Accelerator Pilot, 2 SMEs awarded with the SoE in the Covid focused call and to 1 FET.
KAM services, included the new ones and those awarded in the previous years with KAM and coaching services ongoing to the former SMEI Instrument. 38 cases were completed in 2020
-44 EIMC services were offered to SMEs with significant innovation activities and a high potential for internationalization, with the objective to enhance their innovation management capacities.10 cases were completed in 2020
At the end of 2021 KAM services served 91 SMEs beneficiaries of the SMEI phase I-II, EIC Accelerator Pilot and FET, completing 50 cases well over the target of 32. In addition, 82 Catalan SMEs benefitted of the EIMC services to improve their innovation management capacities, and 81 cases were completed, overachieving the target of 78.
In 2020-2021 Catalonia continued having a great success in the SME Instrument (SMEI) Programme, 6 Catalan SMEs were awarded, 2,75% of the total SMEs awarded in the programme. The number of the total awarded SMEs has decreased overall compared with previous KAM reporting periods since it is the first one with no SME Instrument phase 1 calls for proposals. KAM main activity is to facilitate coaching services for SMEI (old cases), EIC Accelerator, FET Open and FTI beneficiaries. In 2020 EASME organised an Innovation Hub Visit in collaboration with ACCIÓ to connect the EIC beneficiaries with the main Catalan Innovation stakeholders.
Along 2020-2021 KAM services were offered to 91 SMEs completing 50 cases including 1 beneficiary of FET program, plus 5 SoE holders that applied to the COVID call and 3 pilot diagnoses on SDG-Sustainable Development Goals based on the Corporate Sutainability Navigator, Improve Tool. 58% of the total had been also served under EEN COSME and 38% received 2 or more services. KAMs advisors were coordinated with the EEN sector group membres to maximise the opportunities to those companies. Another key service performed under EEN COSME project was the preparation for the interviews in Brussels to select the final EICs awardees. To achieve the objective of fostering the impact of the projects, links with COSME activities and EIC services are of key importance. In 2021, 52 SMEs were served but still 22 cases remain uncompleted: 20 SME Instrument phase II/EIC ACCELERATOR Pilot/Fet Open and 2 SME Instrument phase 1. ACCIO will continue offering advice to these projects under the new awarded 2022-2025 Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) CATCIM COSME project.

Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity for innovating SMEs
To help improve innovation management capacities in SMEs, ACCIÓ offered to Catalan SME assessment services using Innovation Health Check (IHC), complying with the innovation management standard CEN/TS 16555-1. The services were offered by highly qualified senior staff trained in using IHC and with experience delivering EIMC to SMEs. ACCIÓ delivered EIMC services to 44 SMEs (39 started the EIMC process in 2020 and 5 started in 2019).
In 2020-2021, 87% of the 82 companies served participated in the ESADE business school innovation course and 45% received other support services (partner search, IPR advice, capacity building) to complement some of the recommended actions
One key additional support offered to SMEs for the first time is 15 hours (2-days) of free advice made by in-house experts. 27 SMEs benefitted from this service and help them carry out at least one recommended action and to accomplish higher rates of complete EIMC services. 81 cases completed all the stages of the EIMC service.
Covid-19 has had a great impact on this year’s expectations. Companies have encountered plenty of difficulties to invest time and resources in the program due to the economic crisis. To facilitat participation, ACCIÓ designed an online version of the service, through the virtualisation of sessions and using online forms to catch all the relevant information. These changes are now systematised and will add value through online advantages the years to come. Digitalisation included the conversion of the innovation course from offline to online.
A clear example of EEN -Kam services client journey and success story is Food sourcing specialist published in our webpage
Main impacts thanks to being awarded as SMEI beneficiaries and KAM service provision are:
-FOLLOWHEALTH has received several prestigious awards: 2.5M€ from the EIC funding , the recognition as one of the eXponential Innovator Leaders in Catalonia and a local talent award from the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce
-ABILITY PHARMACEUTICALS that has raised 4.6M€ : 3M€ from a Chinese pharmaceutical company and 1.6M€ grant from the FDA.
Feedback from one of our beneficiaries of KAM service follows:
“Our experience with SME coaching has been positive. Our coaches have given us the information we needed in order to progress with our business. specifically our KAM is always in touch with us uploading or inviting us to events that can directly impact to VEnvirotech. On the other side, the coach has exchanged with us his own business experience.” Patricia Aymà, CTO of Venvirotech.

Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity for innovating SMEs: even though the COVID pandemic has brought new challenges both for ACCIÓ and the SMEs, such as the new online format, the eagerness to overcome this adverse situation, in the end resulted very successful and highly satisfactory for all its participants: 81 companies finally completed the EIMC cases and 42% SMEs carried out the type of projects suggested and applied to one of the calls for an innovation voucher (2020 or 2021), NON (New Business Opportunities) or Disruption grants to implement one or more of the recommended actions with a very positive impact. A client testimonial: “Thanks to EEN, we foster the innovation in our company and connect with strategic partners that have made grow our commercial network around Europe" Josep Maria Quintana, General Manager, ESINSAs.
The types of innovations identified were mainly incremental innovations related to product, process, structure and business model.
Some impacts achieved by companies that received these services and recommendations are:
-Enhance the profitability of the company in a sustainable way (mostly through an income increase or cost reduction).
-Consolidate or create an innovation culture and mindset
-Improve the innovation management capacity
-Define a prioritization process for constructing the adequate innovation project portfolio (combining exploitation and exploration)
-Increase their capacity to adapt or, even, reinvent to external change.
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