Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 674286
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EENINNOAUSTRIA (Establishing Services Enhancing the Innovation Management Capacity of SMEs in the Enterprise Europe Network)

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

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

A lack of innovation management capacity represents an important barrier to creating economic impact from innovation activities in SMEs. The Horizon 2020 Work Programme “Innovation in SMEs” therefore foresees support services for SMEs via the Enterprise Europe Network addressing this specific issue.

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

The Austrian consortium supported 44 SMEs in addressing factors hindering successful innovation cycles. Activities were targeted at (1) providing substantial consulting and support services in the form of key account management (KAM) to beneficiaries of the Horizon 2020 SME instrument and at (2) enhancing the innovation management capacity (EIMC) of SMEs. The figure given refers to cases started and completed within the period 2015-2016, while many more clients were supported in 2016 with services still ongoing.

Within the frame of the SME instrument, partners conducted company assessments, identified weaknesses in the SMEs’ innovation strategies and subsequently helped SMEs to assign professional coaches. These coaches then jointly developed a coaching plan with the SME and addressed these weaknesses. This process was facilitated and accompanied by the Enterprise Europe Network expert. Further support (e.g. the link to additional financial resources) was provided and the SMEs thereby received a vital consulting service free of charge throughout the SME instrument project. The majority of SMEs utilized and highly appreciated the KAM’s efforts and services and considered the business coaching as a very valuable support.

In addition to the SME instrument, the partners directly supported high-potential SMEs in improving their innovation management. This was achieved through targeted innovation management consulting by senior staff members of the consortium. Thereby, SMEs in need of this specific type of consulting were reached, which could not benefit from the H2020 SME instrument while still showing a high potential for successful market introduction of innovations and international growth. The EIMC services, and especially the acquisition of SMEs, proved to be very time-consuming as SMEs often do not see innovation management as a necessary tool in their daily business. Neglecting this aspect, however, is usually very costly as it causes delays or failure of bringing innovative ideas successfully to the market. SMEs that utilized the EIMC services valued the services highly, even the ones that in the beginning doubted the usefulness and impact of innovation management.

The services were fully integrated into the work programme of the Enterprise Europe Network, linked to its other support services and closely coordinated with the National Contact Points and relevant regional and national stakeholders. This approach guaranteed a high quality of services promoting the successful introduction of Austrian innovations to the European and international market.

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)

"The KAM and EIMC services are unquestionably appreciated by the clients, however, it is very difficult to directly attribute ""considerable enhanced growth and profitability"" to these services alone. Other circumstances influence the business of the SME any time and much stronger than the KAM and EIMC services.

Key Account Management:
The SME instrument as a whole (financing of innovation activities beyond TRL 6, business coaching, KAM via the EEN) is a valuable new instrument and closes the gap between the demand for excellence (as the major approach in Horizon 2020) and the goal to generate more impact on the market. This correlates with the experience of the EEN experts and is reflected in the feedback of the SMEs.
Impact is achieved because a.) the client is provided an analysis of its company and this includes and in-depth discussion on its potential to further develop and grow, b.) the client is connected with the best possible coaching option, which fosters the business development of the client and c.) the client is supported in Phase 1 to improve the quality of his Phase 2 proposal.

Enhancing Innovation Management Capacity for innovating SMEs:
Direct impact of the EIMC service is unquestionably already realised by raising awareness for crucial topics in innovation management, which have so far been neglected by the SMEs. Focussing on such important issues and defining actions to address these gaps as well as receiving expertise on innovation management (idea management, innovation strategy, etc.), certainly creates sustainable impact for the SME."
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