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Enhancing the innovation management capacities of SMEs in West Poland

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - KAM2WestPoland (Enhancing the innovation management capacities of SMEs in West Poland)

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

"Both KAM and EIMC services had a direct impact on strengthening the innovation capacity management of the SMEs. Most clients of the EIMC schemes have not been aware so far of the importance of innovation strategy in their daily operation and development. They needed guidance and support in organisation of innovation management process which has been provided to them thanks to this initiative.
It is important to stress that the increase of awareness of the innovation management process in the companies was one of the most important achievements of the schemes and the implementation of the Action Plans developed within the EIMC schemes. It will definitely bring new opportunities to the companies in the future.
Overall obejctives of both schemes helped in:
- Building a long-term strategy for innovation in SMEs,
- Adopting strategic goals and objectives in terms of innovation development strategies,
- Creating a ""strategic linkage map"" in an enterprise closely linked to the export and commercialization strategy,
- Establishing new technological relationships,
- Development of products, services and technologies that are much closer to the local consumer.
While the number of implemented KAM schemes depends fully and only on the success of the proposals submitted by the SMEs to the SME Instrument, the WP 2 services depend on the effectiveness and engagement of the EIMC consultants. Therefore the EIMC consultants were promoting the WP 2 services during various events (EEN trainings and workshops for the clients) and using various means (newsletters, e-mails, direct meetings, cooperation with Regional Contact Points - presentation of the scheme during their events etc.). Close cooperation with NCPs and their regional offices created a complementary support chain for Innovative SMEs with growth potential. The two Networks supplement each other in the areas of their expertise, which contribute to the increase of the number of SMEI proposals from Poland.
As a result even more companies applied for the scheme than previously expected and they will be provided the services in 2017. The partners of KAM2West Poland also carry out the standard EEN services and this gave them the opportunity to carefully select the clients for EIMC schemes.
In general the WP 1 and WP 2 services were implemented successfully.
The KAM services were standardized and each step was reported in the Case Tracker, while in the case of EIMC services the consortium had to develop the standards to ensure that the services delivered by all partners were of similar quality.

According to the plan, the consortium’s 2-years target were 38 services in total, out of which 6 were foreseen for KAM services. The partners implemented 7 full KAM services, and additional 1 which was not finalised due to problems with the client , and 16 full EIMC schemes. Some other EIMC schemes were initiated in 2016 and will be finalised in the next reporting period. Partner 4 DARR has not reported any EIMC services out of 13 planned due to a serious health problems of the EIMC consultant. However, 4 EIMC schemes were implemented by this partner and finalised in early 2017. So in total services were delivered for 28companies (20 EIMC schemes and 8 KAM schemes) but only 23 reported as full finalised cases.
The KAM cases were provided to the Phase 1 SMEI beneficiaries. Some of them are now considering applying for Phase 2 of the SME Instrument.
Direct impact on the clients of KAM services:
o The SMEI beneficiaries received the most appropriate services enhancing the probability of successful exploitation of their awarded projects;
o After receiving dedicated KAM services companies have a better chance to find investors needed to convert the projects into marketable products.
Direct impact on the clients of EIMC services:
o By completing the IMP³rove / SMEpower / Innovation Health Check questionnaires the companies obtained knowledge about the holistic approach to innovation management, and were able to assess their own capability to manage the innovation. The analysis helped the companies to understand how the innovation management can influence their development. The final outcome of the service were often adjustments of business models used, making the processes more efficient for the benefit of the SMEs.
o The opportunity to be benchmarked across the high-growth European champions was often a starting point for structured discussions about the companies’ development strategies, and resulted in re-definition of their innovation strategies;
o The completed EIMC service should help the companies to prepare successful SMEI proposals for Phase I or Phase II.

Furthermore, regarding KAM services, the potential impact can be linked to the fact that the majority of supported companies declared they will or have already applied for the Phase II SME Instrument or funding from other sources, including the Structural Funds. The realisation of some KAM schemes proves that the companies strengthened their confidence in the source of funding as the SME Instrument is. It should be stressed that the companies applying for Phase I sometimes treated the scheme as a test, but after obtaining funds and receiving coach support, they are willing to apply for the next round of this mechanism.
The support received in the EIMC schemes related to various topics and issues definitely allowed to increase companies’ knowledge on intellectual property rights, corporate finance and business - especially in terms of business model changes. These results translate into increased operating range and greater internationalization capabilities. The potential impact of the social context is also linked to the awareness the companies gained regarding the importance of strategic planning and how important it is to have clear milestones to validate each development step.