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INNOSUP Innovation Associate programme: making SMEs thrive

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SMEs encounter multiple challenges over their life cycle. They are often unable to access skills and knowledge and they experience more obstacles when having to recruit specialised professionals. 

This is where the INNOSUP Innovation Associate programme comes into play. The programme provides grants at European level to SMEs to employ a highly-skilled researcher – the ‘innovation associate’ – for a continuous period of one year. The associate’s task will be to turn the SME’s innovative idea into an innovation project.

Gaining such expertise can have many advantages. In the case of Intrapore GmbH, a German SME working on groundwater decontamination, the innovation associate brought knowledge from previous international research projects. The associate’s work enabled the company to modernise its remediation planning approach completely and helped unlock the potential of Intrapore business plan.

According to AMIGO, an Italian SME working on climate system analysis, its innovative project could not have proceeded without the innovation associate. Firstly, the SME was able to acquire her scientific background and expertise in extreme events identification and attribution. Secondly the associate supported the consolidation of an existing climate service prototype.

In the case of TubaScan, a Dutch SME dealing with molecular diagnostics, the associate managed to broaden the network of the SME thanks to new partnerships and collaborations. 

All three researchers received a longer contract in the SME at the end of the one year. Furthermore, they were able to gain new expertise through training courses organised by the programme.

In fact, during the 12 months of employment covered by the grant, as a part of the funding scheme, every associate participates in a training programme on industrial innovation and business management. At the same time, SMEs get financial support to implement a training and development plan tailored to the needs of the associate and the enterprise. 

Personnel costs, relocation costs, and travel and subsistence costs: everything is covered by the grant. 

The new call for the INNOSUP Innovation associate programme is now open until 15 January 2020. Do not miss this opportunity. Submit your application!

Read the original article on the EASME website.

INNOSUP-1: providing innovation support for SMEs

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‘INNOSUP-1’ is the Horizon 2020 funding programme of cluster-facilitated projects for new industrial value chains. The programme supports SMEs to develop new value chains that cross business sectors. It boosts innovation by combining expertise from different domains.

13 INNOSUP-1 projects have been supporting SMEs to date and five more were launched in May 2019.

What does innovation support do for SMEs?

SMEs have great potential to create new products and services. However, they often face challenges that could be solved thanks to cross-sector cooperation.

INNOSUP-1 gives SMEs the support they need to join the dots and create disruptive innovations. It connects SMEs with other SMEs or larger organisations across many sectors to create new value chains. By doing so, the programme enables SMEs to transfer technologies, strategies and approaches.

There are many positive impacts. SMEs from all sectors develop their business via these innovative value chains. European citizens benefit from improved products, reduced environmental impact, growth and new job opportunities.

53 clusters delivering the projects

The INNOSUP-1 projects are delivered by consortia of experts coming from SMEs, consultancies and research organisations.

Many of these project partners are cluster organisations. Clusters are groups of enterprises that collaborate closely with each other. The 13 projects that have been active so far were delivered by 139 partners. Two out of 5 of these partners were cluster organisations and between them they counted 6,500 SMEs among their members.

More than 3,200 SMEs reached

The INNOSUP-1 projects have established contact with at least 3,200 SMEs to date. This number will increase as the new projects launch their calls for support. The new projects aim to reach almost 1,500 SMEs in total and to give innovation support to over 600 of them.

Over 1,600 SMEs supported

To date, INNOSUP-1 projects have provided innovation support services for over 1,600 SMEs. These SMEs are located across Europe and beyond. They were present in 27 of the EU Member States and nine of the 16 Horizon 2020 associated countries.

€26 million spent on innovation support for SMEs so far, which will rise to a total of €63 million  

All INNOSUP-1 projects are required to spend at least 75% of their budgets on innovation support services for SMEs. Innovation support services can take the form of funding, vouchers for specialised services, workshops, mentoring, and online platforms.

SMEs have to date received over €26 million in innovation support services from INNOSUP-1. As the new and ongoing projects continue, this figure will rise to over €63 million.

For more details on the projects and the support they receive read the programme impact report and read the full article on the EASME website.

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