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Encouraging INNOvation for development of GREEN jobs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNO GREEN (Encouraging INNOvation for development of GREEN jobs)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2018-09-30

The project INNO GREEN recognizes SMEs as an important potential engine of green growth able to facilitate transformation to more resource efficient circular economy, as emphasized within the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017 (Innovation in SMEs). SMEs engaging in green entrepreneurship need to be supported and guided to reach their full green growth potential. Transition to a greener economy is more challenging for SMEs than large firms, although they can be more flexible in adapting to the fast changing market environment. The willingness and capability of SMEs to exploit green business opportunities generally meet with size-related resource constraints, skills deficits and knowledge limitations. Although the discussion on green entrepreneurship is on-going across European countries, there are no well-established practical models for providing efficient support to SMEs in green entrepreneurship. Small companies are facing multiple challenges related to green growth and eco-innovations: lack of awareness on environmental impact of their activities; lack of access to information, knowledge and technology; issues in meeting regulatory requirements; lack of skills and qualified personnel; limited access to finance; barriers in access to international markets. Moreover, existing models are often not applicable in regions with underdeveloped entrepreneurship. To address the lack of practical methodologies and models of support to SMEs “going green”, the INNO GREEN project developed an innovative model offering different approaches to encouragement of innovation for creation of green jobs, specifically adapted to particular regions’ characteristics.
The overall objective of the INNO GREEN project is to boost joint collaboration between the innovation support agencies through peer learning, raise their competences in offering practical and innovative tools as a support to SMEs in innovative “green” entrepreneurship. To achieve this objective, three innovation support agencies cooperated closely to address common innovation challenges in the field of green entrepreneurship.
Three innovation support agencies jointly collaborated and implemented peer learning activities, continuously exchanging knowledge and experiences, to reach the project objectives and achieve the results during the project lifetime.
WP1. Management and communication
Project partners conducted project management, monitoring and reporting in accordance with the Horizon 2020 rules. The Consortium Agreement was prepared and signed by all three partners.
Internal communication process is conducted on a daily basis to ensure coordination and achievement of project objectives. Four partnership meetings are organized to ensure the successful implementation of the project. During the Final meeting, the partnership organized the Virtual Conference to share project results.
Partners prepared Dissemination and Exploitation Plan. External communication to local/regional stakeholders was implemented via several communication tools; Virtual Conference, regular publishing of information on partners’ websites, sharing information via social networks and media. Partnership also developed the Data Management Plan specifying content regarding types of data that the project will generate and collect.
Deliverables: 1.1 Consortium Agreement, 1.2 Dissemination and Exploitation Plan, 1.3 Data Management Plan.

WP2. Learning process
Peer learning is implemented through sharing of experiences and regional best practices among the project partners. Good practices visits in all three countries are realized during the partnership meetings. Project partners also analyzed third parties’ solutions (e.g. studies, project results, literature etc.) and lessons learned within this process are used. Based on joint learning process the INNO GREEN model is developed, offering different approaches adapted to specific regions’ characteristics, for an innovation increase by SMEs “going green”. At the end of the learning process three pilot projects are performed, one in the region of each participating partner, with the aim of testing the proposed model in real-life situations with different backgrounds. Pilot actions will be implemented with local SMEs in order to gain feedback on the model’s assumptions. Implemented pilot projects are described in the Report on the pilot projects.
Deliverables: 2.1 Draft INNO GREEN model, 2.2 Report on the pilot projects.

WP3. Preparation of the Design Options Paper
Under the guidance of the RDA Green Karst, the project partners started the development and preparation of the Design Option Paper. The Design Options Paper document is based on the outcomes of the peer learning process (see WP2). It includes the INNO GREEN model as an innovative tool to support SMEs in “green” entrepreneurship and experiences from implementation of pilot actions. During the Final Partnership Meeting, a Virtual Conference is organized by the partnership, raising discussion on the project’s results to relevant stakeholders on regional, national and EU level. The INNO GREEN model and Design Option Paper are presented to representatives of other business innovation agencies and experts. The Design Options Paper is further developed and improved based on the feedback gained during the Virtual conference. The final version of the Design Options Paper will be used to share the knowledge gained within the project with other interested innovation agencies and other stakeholders.
Deliverables 3.1 The INNO GREE Design Options Paper.
IThe model developed within the INNO GREEN project aims at the supply of practical and innovative tools to support SMEs in their effort to develop sustainable business practices and create more green jobs. The Design Options Paper, as a result of the INNO GREEN project, is directed towards boosting peer learning between three project partners in order to raise their competences for encouraging innovation in development of green jobs with SMEs. Project partners have joined their experiences and knowledge in working with SMEs in order to explore the best ways in dealing with this issue. Partners started with an exploration of best practices across EU and specifically, with viewing and discussing the best practices in their own regions. Based on collected observations, discussions with different stakeholders and considering limitations they have encountered when supporting green businesses, the partnership designed the INNO GREEN model, which includes main approaches to encouragement of innovation for creation of green jobs, specifically adapted to particular regions’ characteristics.
The model has been tested within each region: partners organized pilot projects in their regions, addressing specific challenges that we identified. We also discussed about the model with innovation agencies outside of our partnership. For this reason, the partnership also organized a Virtual conference on 11th September 2018, inviting all interested parties to participate and give us their view on the subjects explored and on the INNO GREEN model itself.