INNOSUP-6-2018 call “Supporting experimentation in innovation agencies”

About INNOSUP-6-2018

The 200SMEchallenge project has been ideated and designed in order to thoroughly address the challenges specified in the INNOSUP-6-2018 call “Supporting experimentation in innovation agencies”.

Constant adaptation

According to the European Commission, innovation support agencies should constantly adapt and innovate in the way that they provide support. Yet, due to the lack of funds, time pressure to deliver new support, and the fear of a backlash against ‘money wasting’ they rarely do. At the same time, both existing and proposed new support mechanisms are often introduced with no adequate way of testing their effectiveness.

Innovating the innovation support

Therefore, the European Commission has decided to dedicate this call to the experimental pilot projects which aim at engaging more in policy experimentation and Random Control Trials (RCTs) to evaluate the impact of innovation agencies schemes, and to encourage innovating the innovation support system through the brand new schemes or significantly improved ones.

Two types of grants

It has issued two types of grants to innovation agencies to innovate their innovation support schemes addressed at SMEs and start-ups available. Both types of grants include testing using RCTs:

  • Strand 1: Grants for small-scale experimental pilot projects which aim to investigate, including small-scale RCTs, either a feasibility of a promising idea for a brand new SME innovation support scheme ('proof of concept'), or test different options of significantly revising an existing support scheme. Funding for grants awarded under this topic takes the form of a fixed lump sum of EUR 60.000.
  • Strand 2: Grants for large-scale experimental pilot projects which aim to test on a larger scale, with RCTs, new SME innovation support schemes to provide clear evidence of their impact. Grant of around €300.000 - €500.000 was given to this strand.

200SMEchallenge falls under the strand 2 of funded projects.

Top challenges

Call specific challenges and how 200SMEchallenge will address them

The project will consist in a safe space for involved innovation agencies to experiment a new SMEs innovation support scheme. Risks of failures or unwanted effects will be minimized as: i) the proposed scheme was successfully piloted by HIT in late 2017; ii) a detailed design of the proposed scheme along with practical implementation guidelines is bound to be delivered by a dedicated H2020 project; iii) a considerable part of the project budget will be utilized to build capacity within the involved innovation agencies with regards of the execution of the initiative.

The execution of the proposed scheme will be framed within a scientific study utilizing a RCT setting. A sample of two hundred beneficiaries SMEs will be selected and allocated to two groups (control and treatment) according to a research plan, allowing for rigorous measurement of impact, as well as satisfaction on targeted SMEs.

The proposed scheme is designed to deliver sound added value to targeted companies. It will allow SMEs to gather strategic innovation insight for their NPD processes, on a local basis and in the short time frame. By delivering actionable outputs such as product prototypes, the proposed Innovation Challenge intends to tackle the innovation support need of many European SMEs “for tools and support mechanisms for design-driven, user-centred
innovation” in line with the working hypothesis of the European Commission’s Staff Working Document, “Design as a driver of user-centred innovation.

Seven Innovation Agencies will engage in one experimental execution of an innovative and impactful SME innovation support policy tool based on design thinking and user-centric design methodologies normally utilized in startup business for product innovation. Full easy-to-use documentation on how to design and experiment novel SME innovation support scheme based on the tenets of innovation prizes will be disseminated to a large set of innovation agencies beyond the project.

The project will allow for an extensive test and validation of the impact generated by the EU-wide execution of a new and innovative
SME support initiative. The initiative will be executed taking into account guidelines provided by a DOP – Design Option Paper to be delivered by a prior H2020 dedicated peer learning, investigation and design effort38. Soundness of the scheme evaluation will be ensured by a RCT setting featuring a consistent sample of targeted companies (200 SMEs). Overall, the evaluation study will be managed by an internationally recognized research institute devoted to evaluating impact of public policy (FBK-IRVAPP, affiliated to HIT).

According to evidence gathered from early regional pilots, the newly proposed scheme delivers consistent results in a short time frame (4 months) and utilizing a limited budget (mainly utilizing in-kind FTE resourced by innovation agencies). This is in line with the “think small first” recommendation from the EC in implementing SME innovation policy39. All tasks related with the actual execution of the scheme were framed into a separated work package (WP3), this way allowing for actual evaluation of scheme implementation costs per each partner (besides all other project-related activities).

Thanks to the know-how developed during the experimentation, the project will deliver an actionable guide for innovation agencies willing to adopt and possibly scale up the experimented initiative, including further exploitation options (e.g. business models to contribute to the economic sustainability of the initiative). The guide will be disseminated throughout PPs regional, national and European networks, including EEN (Enterprise Europe Network), ERRIN (European Regions Research and Innovation Network), networks of innovation agencies such as TAFTIE, the EASME website, beside the project website. A dedicated promotional video and advertising
campaign will be executed to maximize dissemination.

Impact areas

Innosup-6 expected impact areas and how 200SMEchallenge will address them

To learn more about the INNOSUP-6-2018 call visit