CENTRIM and its academic partners (SPRU at University of Sussex, INSEAD, IFF Fraunhofer) have worked in close collaboration with a number of support agencies to advance understanding of the innovation support process for small enterprises. Our previous work (for example, the RAPPORT project) has influenced the decision made by the European Commission to introduce the SME Instrument scheme as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, an innovation coaching scheme for SMEs. Provided with approximately €3bn in funding for the 2014-2020 period, the SME Instrument helps high-potential SMEs to develop groundbreaking innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition. CENTRIM is working on the coach.com 2020 project to develop the SME Instrument for the Executive Agency of SMEs in close collaboration with the following partners:
Platform for Innovation (platinn), Switzerland
Based in Switzerland, platinn supports SMEs and start-up companies in their business innovation projects. Accredited coaches deliver services focused on business development, cooperation, partnerships, organisation, resources, and fundraising. The agency is recognised for its business strategy focus, innovation practices and commitment to collaborate on the development of business critical resources. Platinn was awarded the management of the Swiss Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT), a national programme supporting knowledge and technology transfer for SMEs and has been cited as a good practice example of effective business innovation support for SMEs in the OECD territorial review (2011). The Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), the Swiss federal agency for promoting innovation, chose the platinn model for high tech start-up coaching.
Scottish Enterprise (SE), UK
Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency, funded by the Scottish Government. Its aim is to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Core services focus on innovation, growth companies (mainly, but not exclusively, SMEs) and international trade and investment. SE’s Business Plan (2012–2015) is backed with a three-year budget totalling £900m and reflects an ambitious campaign of growth-focused programmes. SE works intensively with over 2,000 growth potential companies that collectively achieve annual sales of £80bn and employ 360,000 people in Scotland. SE also works with thousands of other SMEs helping to build their growth prospects and improve competitiveness. A genuine team effort approach is adopted and SE works closely with public and private sector partners to deliver growth for client companies. SE is the co-ordinator of Enterprise Europe Network Scotland (EES). EES operates within the wider European ‘landscape’ with respect to the financial, innovation and competitiveness agenda of the European Commission, and is recognised as one of the leading players in the overall Enterprise Europe Network.
Lithuanian Innovation Centre (LIC), Lithuania
The Lithuanian Innovation Centre (LIC) is a non-profit organisation, providing innovation support services to enterprises, research institutions, industry associations and business support organisations. LIC aims to foster capabilities to develop and implement innovations, accelerate commercialisation of achievements in advanced sciences and reduce the risk of innovation implementation.
LIC has more than 1,700 clients and is a partner in the Enterprise Europe Network, focusing on connecting Lithuanian companies to technology and knowledge. LIC has strong links to business and innovation support organisations in Lithuania, the Baltic Sea region, EEN partners and has good connections with Eastern Europe through cross-region and cross-border knowledge sharing about best practices in SME support with Croatia, Bosnia Herzegowina and Belarus.
Technology Innovation International (TII), Luxembourg
Technology Innovation International (TII) is Europe's premier independent association of technology transfer and innovation support professionals. TII members promote or provide high quality innovation support and technology transfer services to firms, with the ultimate aim of developing the knowledge economy and boosting the wealth creation process.
The association creates a vibrant hub for members to share professional experience and good practice, to facilitate business opportunities and support technology transfer and innovation assignments. TII brings together innovation and technology consultants, technology brokers and intellectual asset advisers, university and research centre transfer offices, regional development agencies and chambers of commerce, science parks, innovation centres and incubators, contract research organisations and engineering consultants, government ministries and agencies and sectoral professional organisations.
This project has firm foundations in previous collaborative research. In the smE-MPOWER project, together with other organisations, we developed a range of tools and methodologies to support the identification and implementation of innovation projects in European SMEs. Following this, these tools and techniques were tried and validated in the biotechnology industry in the SM-BIO-power project. Our work together on the RAPPORT project enabled us to identify good practice in knowledge and technology transfer for SMEs across Europe. The RAPPORT project has reviewed 289 KTT programmes for SMEs across all European countries and developed a unique methodology to assess effectiveness.
CENTRIM’s Dr George Tsekouras has worked extensively with our partners to advance thinking and action in support of innovation in SMEs. The coach.com project collaboration is expected to play an instrumental role in supporting business innovation projects in European SMEs.