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INcreasing the InNOVation Management Capacity of SMEs in ISTanbul

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNOVIST 4.0 (INcreasing the InNOVation Management Capacity of SMEs in ISTanbul)

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

NNOVIST 4.0 aims to provide Key Account Management (KAM) services to beneficiaries of Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument, FTI and FET Open; and providing services for “Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity” (EIMC) to SMEs in the Istanbul region. The main objective of the project is to contribute to enhancing the competitiveness, growth and profitability of SMEs in the region by assessing their innovation management capacities, performing gap analyses, and developing and prioritizing actions to resolve problems and further improve their innovation outcomes. The innovation management capacity and performance of a company will be assessed by using tools in compliance with the CEN/TS 16555-1 standard (such as IMP3rove, AToMIC or smE-MPOWER).
1. WP1 Key Account Management services for the beneficiaries of the SMEs Instrument:

Because of the low application rate of Turkish companies to SME-I, in order to increase application rates, promoting the KAM services and achieving target KAM service numbers, we developed some strategies such as organizing specific information days about SME-I and EIC Accelerator programme. We worked in collaboration with specific target groups (i.e. clusters, technoparks) and try to increase application numbers of high technology companies.

Regarding the regional statistical data, our forecast for the 2020-2021 period was 10 EIC projects from Istanbul region. During the project period, there was 109 applications to EIC programmes but unfortunately only 1 of them received funding in our region, despite 11 proposals received Seal of Excellence certificate.

Some of the SoE holders are already clients of our Consortium, EEN services were introduced to them in the manner of acces to finance, access to international markets, IPR, finding relevant national and EU funding opportunities and individual advisory support has given during the proposal preparation phase. Most of them have been directed to national funding program of TUBITAK, which aims to provide financial support to SoE holders to implement their projects.

2. WP2 Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity for innovating SMEs

At the end of the 2021, we have reached to 40 companies to deliver EIMC services. 38 EIMC services are carried out by Sabanci University and 2 EIMC services are carried out by KOSGEB.

In the beginning of the project we have organized 2 events focusing on EIMC services to arouse interest of innovative companies with high potential and ask the interested companies to fulfill the AToMIC self-assessment tool to have a inside about the companies’ maturity level about innovation management capability. 175 companies attended to the events and 75 of them shoved interest to the EIMC service.

At the end of the selection process, based on the self-assessment results, we have prioritized 40 companies to deliver EIMC services.

We have used the methodology of smE-MPOWER or AToMIC (Assessment Tool for Management of Innovation Capabilities) for EIMC analyses and prepared individual feedback reports for the companies.

For further support, we have included in feedback reports relevant Network services, which companies can benefit, based on the need assessments (half day face-to-face meetings with the top management level) of companies.

Just like the KAM services, each EIMC expert has been act as a Key Account Manager for their EIMC client and helped finding suitable mentors and has monitored the mentoring process closely to collect solid impact data. This approach allowed us to report 26 Advisory Service Outcome (ASO) as a result.

Based on 26 ASO, direct impact was observed in EIMC beneficiary companies who were ready and willing to commit resources for their action plans. Instances can be summarized as
• direct increase in the number of employees (11 companies employed a total of 26 employees) due to an organizational innovation such as founding a specific business development unit including innovation management tasks in the existing R&D departments and/or founding an innovation management department
• developing and investing in new business models (such as opening up a one-stop-shop or hiring new points of sales), (10 companies)
• getting funding from national R&D funding agency (13 companies received funding for 17 projects from TÜBİTAK)
• getting R&D funding from international funding agencies (e.g. Horizon Europe, Eurostars..) (3 companies submit applications for 4 project call and 1 of them received funding.)
• creating a new innovation strategy (5 companies)
• increase in market share or turnover (19 companies)
• introducing (or developing prototypes) a new product or service to the market (5 companies)
• filing a new patent application (4 companies filed 5 patent applications)
• accessing new international market (6 companies accessed 11 new international market)
and so forth.

The expected “direct impact” stated in the Work Programme is to enhance the growth and profitability of the SMEs. In terms of enhanced profitability, we believe the SMEs who invested in developing new strategies and processes need more time to be able to observe and assess the outcomes, but we can observe impacts of EIMC services as progress on various levels such as, awareness, innovation strategy, idea management, cooperation, assets& capabilities and outcomes of the innovation activities.
We experienced that most of the companies have a good knowledge and experience about national R&D funds, but they are lacking about EU Funds, and access to finance opportunities. We signposted companies that are willing and have the potential for EU funds to the relevant EEN staff and provided detailed information.

To ensure service quality, we have set Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) for critical stages of the EIMC service process at the consortium level, i.g. "time for preparing feedback report after site-visit", "re-contact time after last follow-up activity" etc.
In addition to these, in order to ensure the same quality level of the individual feedback reports prepared by different EIMC experts, we came together as a team and held feedback report preparation workshops on sample cases.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic situation, the priorities of the companies have changed and we could not reached the project objective of “103 EIMC Cases" as of 31 December 2021.

Because of the misalignment about the meaning of the word innovation in Turkey and also in EU, often at national and regional level, the innovation financing supports are still focused just on the R&TD prospective. In the Covid-19 pandemic situation, SMEs in our region trying to stay alive and innovation implies a focus that is usually too narrow for the client and not relevant in their day to day business.