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Innovation Management Capacity Enhancement of SMEs in Saxony-Anhalt for the period 2020-21

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IMCESA-2021 (Innovation Management Capacity Enhancement of SMEs in Saxony-Anhalt for the period 2020-21)

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

The general objective of the described actions was to contribute to smart growth in the European Union by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of investments in research, development and innovation and by contributing to a better and more efficient connection of actors along the innovation chain.
Under the specific action services designed to "Enhance the Innovation management capacity of SMEs" by providing in-depth support services to SMEs were delivered.
As a result, the efficiency and effectiveness of innovation processes in the supported small and medium sized enterprises was raised to a higher level.
Thanks to this support measure, the companies with significant innovation activities will be able now to become potentially beneficiaries of European support to research and innovation. This service was provided independently from a specific innovation project focussing on the company's innovation management system.
Direct impact from the action is a significantly enhanced growth and profitability of SMEs.
Thus innovation processes will be conducted more efficient and more effectively.
Indirect impact rose from the introduction of high quality innovation management capacity assessment and support services in the region of Saxony-Anhalt.
Given the restricted number of packages available for the region of Saxony-Anhalt, it was important that resources were focused on the companies that have the potential to benefit most: both in terms of the impact of the intervention on the company’s future innovation goals and growth, as well as in relation to the economic development goals of the region.
Potential candidates were be assessed against the following criteria:
- Strategic and international aspirations: company ambition
- Opportunities to grow
- Capacity to innovate
- Likely impact on the SME/region/Europe
An innovation intake took place as part of a standard EEN discussion with SME clients. This prevented falsely raising the expectations of clients who do not meet the profile. These SMEs were referred into other EEN services under COSME or to suitable regional support offerings.
Selected candidates needed to be persuaded of the benefits of conducting an innovation management assessment and what will be offered to them. The EEN innovation expert explained the responsibilities of both parties (e.g. what is expected of both the SME and the EEN expert) and gets the commitment from the SME to proceed.
The second stage did involve the assessment of the SMEs innovation management capacity and allowed for the baseline measurement of current and future performance.
Identified SME’s innovation management systems and capacity were assessed along the following axes:
- External environment
- Leadership and strategy
- Organization and enablers
- Innovation processes
- Results and improvement
The EEN Sachsen-Anhalt used the “NBank Innovation Management Tool” as diagnostic tool which is compliant with European Innovation Management standards.
The tool was used by the three innovation experts to access the gap between the SME’s innovation capabilities and their innovation goals.
The approach chosen did allow for:
Face-to-Face innovation management capacity assessment, structured by a diagnostic tool
Output: comprehensive strengths, gaps and needs assessment

The third stage did involve the needs and gaps analysis. The completed diagnostic assessment facilitated the analysis and interpretation of the diagnostic assessment results to a proposal with recommendations.
In a meeting with the management of the SME the results and recommendations were discussed and jointly decided what actions the EEN innovation expert will deliver directly, where external resource should be drawn in and what the SME undertakes to do itself.
In the fourth step it was started to implement the jointly agreed steps. These steps highly depend on the type of SME, its sector, size, internal structures, innovation ambitions and capacity.
The agreed steps consists of a mix of types of support:
- Direct consulting support from the EEN innovation expert in cooperation with experts from the host organisation
- Sign-posting to external specialists
- Links to regional support programmes
- Actions that need to be undertaken directly by the SME itself.
The final step involved a final meeting with the company to evaluate the services provided and to ask for the need for further support measures.
According to the reporting requirements, the list of clients receiving the service was continuously updated and a copy of the diagnostic assessment will be kept in the archives of the organization.
Since there were only a few new tenders from H2020 in 2020, no new KAM cases were added for the EEN Saxony-Anhalt. On the other hand, two open cases continued to be followed.
Therefore, the the major part of the project budget was available for the second activity “Enhancing SME innovation management capacity” (EIMC).
Due to the fact that for the EIMC service altogether 7 man-days were foreseen for each individual consultancy case, tti Technologietransfer und Innovationsförderung Magdeburg GmbH was able to give advice to 26 different companies in the area of Saxony-Anhalt in 2020-21.
The objective of the project was to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of innovation processes in the selected small and medium sized enterprises with significant innovation activities with the aim to help the SMEs to become potentially beneficiaries of European support to research and innovation or regional supporting schemes.
Depending on the needs of the company, various implementation measures were proposed and the companies supported. The range stretched from further training measures, through collaborative cooperation projects with other companies or research institutions to the application of Horizon Europe projects.
Although the EIMC service is not necessarily linked to the implementation of an exact innovation project, real measures were prepared at approximately half of the consultations.
These measures ranged from R & D projects, the transfer of knowledge and technology, to the strengthening of innovation capacities through the recruitment of innovation assistants.
At this time it is difficult to make a quantitative statement on the economic development (turnover, number of employees, investment volume) of the supported companies.
If, however, all the projects started are implemented according to their planning, it can be assumed that these measures result in a positive effect on the companies.
Depending on the circumstances, all supported companies are open to be a partner in innovation projects (EU, national, regional) and will be further supported by other host organization measures.