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enhancing Innovation and Key Account Management by sme2EU

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - I-KAM2EU (enhancing Innovation and Key Account Management by sme2EU)

Période du rapport: 2020-01-01 au 2021-12-31

Innovation is a one of the most important key driver for the success of SMEs. Lack of innovation management capacity is recognised as an important barrier to transform SMEs innovation activities in economic impact (competitiveness, growth and jobs). Consulting services enhancing the innovation management capacity are not available to SMEs. SMEs need support to develop an internal environment (culture, attitude, organization, procedures, methods, tools) able to exploit innovation and turn it into competitive improvement.
The main objective of I-KAM2EU was to make available the opportunity for SMEs to have a structured support to develop and maintain an internal innovation management system to facilitate their growth of competitiveness and cross-border partnerships. It can allow SMEs to become more innovative and to achieve more success with their product, service, process, organisational design and business model innovation. This would foster SME results, value and competitiveness.
The project was developed by the partners of SME2EU, the Enterprise Europe Network consortium for the three Italian regions Marche, Tuscany and Umbria.
Two kinds of services were addressed:
1. Key Account Management (KAM) service, for beneficiaries of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument,/EIC Accelerator, FET Open and Fast Track to Innovation. It includes assistances to identify gaps and suitable coaches, and support their work to improve SME’s strategies and approaches to facilitate the exploitation of the founded project.
2. Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity (EIMC) service, for SMEs with significant innovation activities and concrete potential for international growth (about product, process, service or business model innovation) but with low expertise to manage innovation activities. It consists of an innovation management capacity assessment, a gap analysis and the provision of an action plan to address recognised gaps.
In 2020-2021, as in previous years, five SME2EU partners delivered the project services.
I-KAM2EU implemented the two services in close collaboration between all partners and in connection with the activities developed by all the partners themselves as EEN members, about the promotion of the services, the identification of candidates for EIMC service and the suggestion of further targeted opportunities for companies.
The partners agreed common operating procedures for the two services. They worked on a regional basis. Inside Tuscany and Marche where two active partners were involved, H2020 beneficiaries were equally allocated among the partners. Partners have informed each other about contacts for EIMC services, too.
About KAM services, the activities have been constrained in the times and numbers from the results of the participation of local companies at the SME Instruments cut-offs.
I-KAM2EU has provided 7 KAM services, for:
• 4 beneficiaries of SME Instrument Phase 1, of which 3 closed cases;
• 1 beneficiary of EIC Accelerator, closed.
• 1 beneficiary of Fast Track to Innovation, not closed.
• 1 beneficiary of FET Open, closed.

The number of the worked cases was aligned with the project target (7), but the number of completed cases (5) is significantly lower (-39%) the target. This because two beneficiaries started the activities with KAMs, but preferred not to activate coaching services.
All the clients were very satisfied with the results of the coaching service.

The experience gained in previous years by all active partners, favoured the selection and active involvement of companies. The high number of companies allowed to allocate on EIMC the resources left free by the reduced action on the KAMs.
I-KAM2EU has provided 78 EIMC services, of which 71 cases completed by the end of 2021, exceeding the target of 68.
IHC has been used in almost all assessments, because the small dimension of the clients. In a few cases, IMP3rove was used.

The total number of services and of clients was 85 (7 KAMs and 78 EIMCs), of which 54% in Tuscany, 27% in Marche and 19% in Umbria.
Direct impact from the two actions was the improvement of innovation management in SMEs receiving the services as compared to their initial situation. I-KAM2EU successfully provided services to 85 different companies, helping in their growth and profitability paths.
The real impacts generated by the project will be measurable in the medium period, in terms of improvement of the competitiveness and innovation capacities of SMEs and their ability to better act and evolve in the market.
The dissemination and communication activities were provided in close synergy with the SME2EU project and partners web-site, e-mailing, workshop, meetings, brochures. It increased the awareness of SMEs about the relationship between the innovation management processes and the market competitiveness.
Performing the services, I-KAM2EU offered to each client the most relevant and interesting EEN COSME services, useful to meet its specific needs. i.e. access to finance, European funds, trans-national collaborations. KAMs proposed Business Acceleration Services to beneficiaries, but without involving clients in any factual participation. Some SMEs receiving the Seal of Excellence (in particular 3 holders who had given their consent to be contacted by EEN) was supported to improve the proposal and / or direct it to other Horizon or local calls, as well as providing COSME services.

Four partners participated to the national EEN Working Group KAM/EICM proved as a useful tool for sharing experiences. Moreover, all the partners' experts cooperated to share problems and solutions and to transfer experience and knowledge learned.