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Key Account management and inNovation capacity support services for Triveneto SME’s

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KANT (Key Account management and inNovation capacity support services for Triveneto SME’s)

Reporting period: 2014-07-01 to 2014-12-31

KANT project addressed the challenges of part 7 - Innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises – of HORIZON 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015. It runned activities and offered services to SME’s of Triveneto to enhance their capacity in managing innovation in a strategic and structured way, in order their innovation projects can output results which can effectively be exploited for increasing company’s competitiveness and growth in terms of jobs and profits.

Triveneto SME’s have a low attitude in innovation and innovation management. Often innovation happens by chance and investments in R&D are considered not a strategic priority. Surely, small dimension – typical of Triveneto business structure (in Trentino, for instance, 94% of companies employ less than 9 employees) – low propensity in inter-company collaboration, difficulties in generational replacement, low managerial culture are obstacles to innovation management.

KANT project aimed at improving the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in Triveneto macro-region in order to help in achieving the targets fixed by the Europe 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Even if Triveneto is a dynamic area from an economic and entrepreneurial point of view (high propension to family companies) and institutional bodies are effective in supporting local economic development the credit crunch first and the successive economic crisis have strongly affected the macro-region.
Furthermore, differences in the cost of labour, globalization of the markets, economic and cultural growth of geographical areas once underdeveloped have almost swept away the previous industrial leadership of our economies. Systematic R&D and innovation approach can partly stem this trend and maintain our enterprises competitive in the global market.

In order to answer these challenges specific objectives have been pursued:
• to support an accurately selected group of SME’s of Triveneto macro region with propensity to innovation to design, create and maintain an Innovation Management System (IMS) in order for them to include systematic innovation approach as an asset for growth;
• to support SME Instrument beneficiaries of Triveneto with a Key Account Management service focussed on helping the companies to better exploit SME Instrument opportunity during assisted phase and afterwards, in order to reduce time to market and increase company growth;
• to foster the “International horizon” of innovation in Triveneto, involving cut edge innovative companies in a special club of European innovators that will be exploited as archetypes for future followers;
• to deliver 7-day service packages for each company;
• to identify suitable methodologies for enhancing SME’s innovation capability.
KANT consortium supported 9 SME's of Triveneto region, providing them with support to “Enhancing SME innovation management capacity”.

IMP3rove assessment methodology has been used to analyse the companies and benchmark them with a sample. Experts of the consortium assisted the questionnaire compilation during company audits with managers in order to:
- help the beneficiaries to fully understand the questions;
- help the beneficiaries to contextualize questions to their specific activities;
- help the beneficiaries to reflect on their current way of managing innovation within their company.

As a follow up, SME's received a consulting workshop, during which benchmark results were discussed with the experts and action plans were jointly elaborated.

According to a subsequent survey, supported companies highlighted the usefulness of the support performed and the added value provided by the assistance of the experts. A few companies asked for further support after the KANT project period.
Direct impact on companies assisted in Triveneto to enhance their innovation management capacities (service "EIMC") has been measured via a short term questionnaire. In particular, clients answered positively to question "How do you rate the overall benefit of the offered services for your organisation?", with a mean value of 5,57 (rating from 1 to 7), with a standard deviation of 0,98, minimum value 4 and maximum value 7. A good result that highlights the perceived benefit offered to the companies.
For sure the assessed companies appreciated the advice and the deep analysis provided; companies were not aware about the new technical specification on innovation management and they were interested to understand how to better use it for really demonstrating their innovation capacity as a distinctive element. A few of them asked for further support.

The action produced also wider implications. In fact, even if KANT has been a pilot action, with a limited set of enterprised supported, it demonstrated that the methodology can be scaled up as a stable service in the partners portfolios for supporting systematic innovation in the macro-region. The methodology can really be a good promotional tool to attract companies with growth capabilities, strengthening their capabilities for being more competitive on the international scenario.
Innovation Life Cycle