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NIR-VANA Report Summary

Project ID: 681787
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NIR-VANA (Networking Innovation Room for Added Value Networking Alliances)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

SMEs rarely have the equipment, facilities, skills, resources and exploitation networks to achieve high levels of innovation independently. Instead, the majority of successfully innovating SMEs collaborate to achieve their aims. This may be with other SMEs, large enterprises, research institutes or universities, often by employing Open Innovation principles. Open Innovation (OI) is an innovation strategy by which companies go beyond their internal boundaries when designing and developing Innovation projects. Failure to collaborate is a major barrier to SME growth through innovation.

NIR-VANA provides an opportunity for EEN and innovation advisors to improve the capacity for online innovation of SMEs. The project will:
Help innovation advisors enrich their current activities for the benefit of SMEs with online tools that automate many of the time-consuming elements of their role
Promote the acquisition of new skills for the innovation advisors to use current online platforms and to guide the SMEs throughout the online collaboration process for innovation
Engage the SMEs into the EEN added value services for enhanced and open innovation support.
Facilitate accurate reporting of EEN activities to the European Commission
Involve SMEs from both innovative and non-traditionally innovative sectors into the innovation loop to increase their integration within the European Innovation Network.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Right at the beginning of the project a literature review and survey of innovation agencies and SMEs was conducted. This was the base to define the services and tools of the NIR-VANA project. As main results we could define the specification of the NIR (Networking Innovation Room) feature set and the list of innovation platforms linked to NIR. We also developed a questionnaire for SMEs and an interview scheme for Innovation Advisors. The consortium reached the number of valid responses corresponding to the SME survey in the 286 responses collected from 8 countries.

In the next step we started the design the innovation model and the workflow builder to construct bespoke SME innovation workflows, which is still ongoing (until December 2017, M20). We are creating the workflow element library, which graphically represents all identified workflow elements, including the external tools which can be employed in the context of NIR-VANA. Given the agile development approach in the project, future modifications of the results and therefore the workflow element library are possible. Also, existing complementary tools and platforms (e.g. Linknovate, IPlytics, Presans, ideXlab etc.), have been analysed in order to collect common workflow elements, which are already employed on the market. Currently, more than 60 mock-ups are part of the library.
Furthermore a toolbox was created with questionnaires, checklists, analytic techniques, etc. to be used by the innovation advisors in the steps or phases of the innovation workflows. Collecting and creating these supporting tools and templates (agreement templates, GANTT chart templates, checklists) is still ongoing. Sources for useful templates for innovation advisors and SMEs (e.g. the European IPR helpdesk) were also integrated.

In order to obtain direct feedback from the final users about the workflows and the different tools as well as to receive suggestions about how to model these elements using the ICT tools to be developed, we organized 5 plenaries and several bilateral meetings within 5 dissemination events targeting innovation advisers from other organisations took place in the period from February 2017 to May 2017 and was hosted in Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Turkey.

The heart of the NIR-VANA project is the design and integration of the services and ICT-based tools. We are working on the development of the Networking Innovation Room (NIR) services which contain all the different added value tools and systems to be integrated and use on the layer. NIR will be also able to be integrated on the current innovation platforms to create synergies in order to boost the innovation loop along the value chain. The current version of the platfrom is accessible using:

NIR-VANA uses the Linkedin API to obtain data from the user’s Linkedin profile to complete their NIR-VANA profile. EEN has been integrated in several manners: 1) the workflow for partner search implemented in the Partner Search Room; 2) the connection to EasyPP to create and submit profiles to the EEN Partnership Opportunity Database; 3) scrapping of EOIs from Merlin; 4) EEN nodes listed on a map together with the registered advisors. IKMIB and FUNITEC do not use specific platforms to deal with SMEs. Thus, NIRVANA has been designed to also cover their needs. A specific mechanism to create partnership profiles or company challenges has been created, by which challenges or profiles can be disseminated within the organisation users or to the whole NIR-VANA community. An API has been developed to enable the registration of users and creation on rooms (e.g. NIR) in NIR-VANA from external platforms. The first use case is planned to be OPENiSME project, which provides an expert finding tool to invite the experts found to NIR-VANA.

Most of training is delivered remotely through an online e-learning portal. The portal acts as a data repository for all training content and is providing structure

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

NIR-VANA will design, develop and validate new services assisting online collaboration for innovation in order to help SMEs to access a broader range of potential innovation partners and mobilise them in a timely manner for concrete projects.

Along the 2 stages of the pilot action the project will provide services to:
! First Stage. EEN Brussels, EEN Swerea, EEN Veneto and the platform of the SME association (IKMIB). All together sum 4000 potential users of the services. Estimation of final users involved in the pilot implementation: 100-120 SMEs directly.
! Second Stage. 15 EENs and innovation agencies. Total estimated number of users: 7000 SMEs. Estimation of final users involved in the project: 700-800 SMEs directly.

The project designs a new service to be provided by innovation advisors, that will help innovation advisors to provide new added value services by using online systems that will facilitate functions like partner finding, referrals, workflows, monitoring and others in order to promote the successful development of innovation partnerships among the SMEs.

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