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Innovation Management Capacity Enhancement of SMEs in Saxony-Anhalt (IMCESA)

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

Reporting period: 2014-05-01 to 2014-12-31

"During 2014 altogether 12 companies received Enhancing SME innovation management capacity services.
Only one company (SONOTEC Ultraschallsensorik Halle GmbH) from Saxony-Anhalt succeeded in the first phase of the SME-instrument.
However this company was jointly supported together with AGIL GmbH Leipzig in the past. Because it is much closer from Halle to Leipzig than to Magdeburg the company decided to receive the KAM services from AGIL. Both EEN partners agreed on this procedure and the tasks was given to AGIL.

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 this 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 two actions is a significantly enhanced growth and profitability of SMEs receiving the services as compared to a control group.
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 which 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 wereassessed 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 wasused by innovation experts to assess 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 step did involve the needs and gaps analysis and action plan development. The completed diagnostic assessment facilitated the development of an action plan providing recommendations on how to close the gap between current innovation capability and ambition, a series of actions to meet those recommendations and milestones to be able to monitor
those recommendations.
- Analysis and interpretation of the diagnostic assessment results to draw up a list of recommendations
- Meeting and discussion of results with SME to discuss recommendations
- Development of a jointly agreed action plan to meet the gaps identified by the diagnostic assessment with accompanying time scales and milestones. Agreement on what actions the EEN innovation expert will deliver directly, where external resource should be drawn in and what the SME undertakes to do itself.
- Get the SME’s commitment to proceed: sign action plan

In the fourth step the Action Plan was implemented.
The action plan highly depends on the type of SME, its sector, size, internal structures, innovation ambitions and capacity (e.g. incremental or radical innovation for example, or how underdeveloped its innovation management systems are) etc.
The action plan consists of a mix of types of support:
- Direct consulting support from the EEN innovation expert
- Handholding the SME to implement some of the actions (e.g. facilitator in internal meetings or workshops)
- Pulling in external specialists (e.g. organisational development, leadership etc.),
- Workshops, training
- Links to regional support programmes
- Actions that need to be undertaken directly by the SME itself (homework).

The EEN innovation expert’s role was to ensure that the action plan is delivered as agreed by all parties, monitor progress and follow up with the SME.

The last step included the Final Report that was drafted and presented as part of the reporting requirements.
- A copy of the original diagnostic assessment
- The agreed action plan
- A report on the activities carried out, underway, and further recommended.
Due to the fact that for the service “Enhancing SME innovation management capacity” altogether 7 man-days were foreseen for each individual consultancy case, tti Magdeburg GmbH was able to give advice to 12 different companies in the area of Saxony-Anhalt.
The idea 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.
Out of the 12 different supported companies 4 SMEs decided to prepare a proposal for the SME Instrument. Two companies handed in the proposal within 2014. Two other companies are still working on their proposals and plan to hand in the proposal in 2015.
Four other companies applied for funding through the federal government of Germany because they did not find any EU call in 2014 that corresponded to their innovation ideas. However they are open to prepare a proposal in the future.
The remaining companies did not apply for any funding in 2014 but all of them did enhance their innovation management capacity too. Depending on the circumstances they are open to be a partner in innovation projects (EU, national, regional).