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INcreasing the InNOVation Management Capacity of SMEs in ISTanbul

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNOVIST (INcreasing the InNOVation Management Capacity of SMEs in ISTanbul)

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

"The objectives of INNOVIST are two-fold:

1) The beneficiaries of Horizon 2020's highly competitive SME Instrument, which supports innovative SMEs which have a promising product or service that can be commercialized with good impact, are provided a ""Key Account Management"" (KAM) service. This includes an exclusive needs analysis of the beneficiary, according to which an experienced Coach is selected and appointed in order to guide the SME through implementing measures for both successfully completing their SME Instrument project and setting the next steps for growth and profitability. INNOVIST aimed to provide the KAM service to SME Instrument beneficiaries in the Istanbul region. The service was provided to 7 SMEs in 2015 and 2016, which is the exact number of SME Instrument beneficiaries.

2) A crucial criterion in the growth process of an SME is its ability to manage innovation. This requires a systematic approach in various areas from idea generation to project development and review, from organizational structure to relations with external actors. In this vein, INNOVIST aimed to provide a tailored service for ""Enhancing the Innovation Management Capacity"" (EIMC) of promising SMEs. EIMC service begins with a detailed analysis of the SME's innovation strategy and activities, using tools compatible with innovation management standards. Following the analysis, the SME is provided with an action plan to remedy any discrepancies or exploit and unused strengths. INNOVIST team follows each client closely during the implementation of the action plan, which can span a year, and together with the SME they try to tackle any obstacles along the way. The facilities of the Network is used extensively, especially in areas like partnerships, intellectual property rights and business plans. INNOVIST provided (and continues to provide) this service to 67 companies since 2015.
Being a rather new service of the Network, the initial challenge of INNOVIST proved to be the actual promotion of these two (EIMC and KAM) services. The project was communicated through conventional means (such as the e-newsletter of the Istanbul consortium), however, the first service package was initiated in the second half of 2015, which turned out to be a year of initiation. The team began providing the EIMC service to a total of 24 companies in 2015, 16 of which implemented (at least partially) their action plans. The number of SME Instrument beneficiaries in the Istanbul region remained at 5 for 2015 (3 Phase II and 2 Phase I), all 5 SMEs were appointed a coach (or coaches for Phase II beneficiaries).

The team focused their efforts more on the promotion of the project in 2016. A standalone website was launched, information days and workshops on innovation management were organized, and collaboration potential with public and private stakeholders were explored, such as coupling the EIMC service with the national mentorship programmes in order to signpost the SME to a relevant mentor, or reaching out to large enterprises / OEMs that want to improve their supplier ecosystem. The team thus increased the visibility of the project, and the number of new EIMC service cases reached 52 in 2016. However, since only 2 companies successfully obtained the SME Instrument award (both Phase I) in the region in 2016, the new KAM cases remained at 2.
The most tangible outcome of the EIMC service has been the considerable increase in the awareness of SMEs regarding innovation management. In almost all of the cases, the SMEs had a certain vision but lacked a strategy for innovation. Many innovative and agile SMEs realized they did not have a well-defined mechanism for managing ideas. Those who had the resources (in time and finance) had the opportunity to work on these two areas with the help of the INNOVIST team and/or an external coach.

In areas like partnership, market strategy / business plans and intellectual property management, the SMEs were encouraged to make full use of the Network facilities, and Network experts proactively got involved in implementing the tailor-made action plans of each SME. These companies were involved in the Network at various levels, participated in brokerage events, made use of the partnership opportunities database and accessed information in their areas of interest.

SMEs who were somehow ready to invest in human sources or organizational and/or operational restructuring yielded direct results in growth and in a longer term, profitability. It is fair to say that the process of enhancing the innovation management capacity of a company can be a rather long one, and the INNOVIST team still monitors the activities of the SMEs involved in the project, in order to be able to observe the medium-to-long term outcomes.

Since the KAM service is relatively more structured thanks to EASME's constant improvement initiative, this service had more visible outcomes. SME Instrument Phase I beneficiaries received coaching which helped them develop their business plans and marketing strategies in order to move to the next phase, as well as think about growth and define their targets more accurately. Phase II beneficiaries additionally had the chance to receive highly specialized coaching services such as developing a business model, obtaining a technical know-how and redefining their organizational structure.