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Enhancing innovation management capacities of SMEs in Montenegro

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MontEENegro (Enhancing innovation management capacities of SMEs in Montenegro)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-12-31

The main objectives of establishing and providing the innovation support services, and thus enhancing the innovation capacities of SMEs in Montenegro were reached.
From early 2015 and 2016, an intense promotion of H2020 was done. Often supported by H2020 national coordinator, Ministry of Science, EEN Montenegro organized many promotional activities: info days, presentations, round tables, “Open days” with particular topic/sector were organized every Friday, explaining potential beneficiaries their possibilities and procedures within this programme. The evaluation of special designed intense training showed positive impressions and great satisfaction. Direct advices and assistance were served on daily basis. As a result, we had in total 6 companies that applied for Phase I, all eligible, but none was funded. On the other side, we have implemented EICM service to 31 companies.
During reporting period EEN Montenegro has assisted 12 SMEs in completion of IMP3rove assessments, while we conducted Innovation Health Check assessment in 19 SMEs. A pre-meeting was held with each company to present the “7 days” EIMC offer (including assessment, action plan and implementation support). In total, 31 innovative SMEs were offered EIMC services to enhance the innovation management capacity. Geographical coverage was respected, covering whole territory of Montenegro (North region 3 SMEs, Central region 18 SMEs and South region 10 SMEs) which fully corresponds to the regional share of active SMEs in Montenegro.
We faced certain problems with collecting some data, as our companies do not register investment and innovation data as tools required, so it took some time to collect them. Also, in the beginning we faced a challenge in interpreting data received from innovation assessment tool, as we lacked specialized training. But, as we conducted trainings (IMP3rove and decentralized on Innovation Management), the process went smoothly. The further training will be continued in the next phase as well.

Each company has received a personalized report containing guidelines for the review of their innovation activities, the current state of the innovation capacity of the company in comparison with the values of other companies of similar size, the size of the potential, and most importantly - recommendations on how to improve its innovation capacity.
For each 31 company we have carried out need analysis, assessed their gaps and challenges. Based on the results corresponding action plans were developed. We have assisted companies with the utmost objectivity, problem-solving approach, focusing on the needs and expectations of the companies, following rules of professionalism and dedication. Also, we have assisted SMEs in all matters related to increasing sales figures and promoting exports to international markets, where synergies between COSME and H2020 were achieved.

Implementation strategy was implemented to high extent. The current situation of innovation development is still worrying, gap between science academy, research community and private sector still exist. Insufficient R&D investments, insufficient R&D results commercialized, with insufficient developed technologies to be transferred to business, all leave significant space for improvement.

As foreseen, limited innovation readiness showed in only 6 applications for Phase I, but no success stories and approved projects. Still, we believe that our success is shown in making SMEs aware of the programme and possibilities for them. Our success is that Investment Development Fund, based on our joint request, opened a special credit line for innovative projects, with favourable conditions, as to support companies with innovative growth and development potential. This could be helpful not only to SMEs being above threshold, but not funded in SME Instruments, but also to all SMEs to raise their technological readiness level, and become more competitive for both national and EU level.

Therefore, our Consortium encouraged SMEs to participate to Horizon 2020 and SME Instrument, and in particular to use the most of our EICM services. We were successful in making assessments using different innovation management tools.
All partners had very good cooperation with companies, and stable and firm cooperation with many ministries, institutions and other business support organizations.