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Additional Innovation support services for Enterprise Europe Network in Eastern France

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EEN GRAND EST INNO (Additional Innovation support services for Enterprise Europe Network in Eastern France)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-12-31

EEN GRAND EST INNO aimed to develop the new Network’s Innovation management services in the regions served by the EEN GRAND EST consortium. The action was divided between
- Key account management (KAM) mentoring support to those SMEs beneficiaries of the H2020 SME Instrument scheme
- Enhanced Innovation Management Capacity services provided to SMEs with a potential to access new international markets through innovation
Both schemes were new in the regional ecosystems and the approach with individual mentoring and in-depth strategic analysis (in particular for EIMC) created a new way to provide added-value services in the regions.
The consortium was able to build up on the (short) experience of the 2014 pilot phase under project REGINNOVE, although only half of the consortium had been able to start implementing the new services back then.
It was therefore one of the main tasks of the consortium in this contract to actively mentor the other partners to help them successfully implementing the tasks in their respective regions.
The context of regional ecosystems with many actors in the field of innovation did not help and it was also necessary to work on the positioning of the new services, to promote them both to potential clients but also to the other stakeholders
For this purposes, strong synergies were required with the COSME core services
During the contractual period, only 6 SMEs in the consortium area were awarded with an SME Instrument grant, and it is estimated that roughly 10 more obtained a Seal of Excellence, stating that although not granted their project was of high value. Out of some 50 proposals funded in France this represents about the same weight as population of Eastern France vs. national population.
As a consequence, KAM services were provided by two partners (Alsace Innovation and CCI Bourgogne) with a fair balance between Phase 1 and Phase 2 cases. So-called Phase 3 support (e.g. additional support during the course of the project to find additional investors, to access new markets, meet partners, …) were also provided

Most services were therefore concentrated on the EIMC scheme, provided by 4 partners. Those services proved to be very successful in terms of image, longer term relationships between the EEN and clients as well as positioning of the EEN in the innovation regional ecosystem. Two partners provided the majority of services building up on the dynamic of the pilot phase while the other two started up more gradually from mid-2015 on after an internal mentoring has been set up as part of the COSME networking activities. Those 2 partners also have to face a lack of availability within their skilled personnel for these tasks.

As a result, 50 % of the resources were used by the consortium, but with valuable results.
On the KAM scheme, all clients benefitted from the coaching scheme which proved to be very useful. Both KAM were able to follow closely the work of coaches and to provide additional services (so-called Phase 3) to companies. For instance, one of the phase 1 although not granted for phase 2 (but Seal of Excellence awarded) was able to secure a strategic investment during the course of the project as well as an alternative funding through ERDF and partial loan for a slightly less ambitious phase 2 development.
On EIMC services, 59 SMEs were mentored (fully achieved) and about 40 more on-going. Most EIMC clients also had concrete benefits out of the supporting scheme: increase of turnover, improved profitability, better strategic planning, secure investment and funding, more efficient human resources management and involvement …

One should also mention that the innovation concerned not only technological but many other forms of innovation were covered: innovation in services, in the way the company is organised, in process as well as in marketing. If new products and new services were launched in the market as a result other achievements within those participating SMEs were measured which contributed to create impact.
Many sectors were concerned, with some highly technological like healthcare, microtechnology, ICT, but other very traditional like metal work, automotive industry, stone exploitation, textile, wood, Plastics and composites industry.
EIMC services have in particular contributed to position the EEN differently in the regional ecosystem as a more professional and more added-value services players and yet with a new approach differentiating from other schemes. It’s however a pity that the EIMC is treated by the European Commission and EASME as a “secondary” scheme vs. KAM where it has tremendous potential to change the image and the impact of the Network in the regions. EIMC should be supported more in the future.
Flyer EIMC in Burgundy
Flyer EIMC in Franche-Comté
Flyer EIMC in Alsace