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Final Report Specific Action – Innovation Information Days for SMEs Enterprise Europe Network Ireland

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May 04, 2021
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Final Report Specific Action – Innovation Information Days for SMEs Enterprise Europe Network Ireland

Info2Innovate national programme for Enterprise Europe Network was a special action for DG Enterprise, European Union involving a national series of workshops, focus groups and seminars over a period of twelve months. The objective of the programme was to identify obstacles that SMEs encounter in engaging in innovation and formulate a range of recommendations to DG Enterprise for future programmes of relevant supports.
An additional objective of the programme was to identify innovation services and supports for SMEs in Ireland, map them in a web directory and present this via a series of events nationally.

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May 04, 2021
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  1. Final Report Specific Action – Innovation Information Days for SMEs

    Enterprise Europe Network Ireland Report Authors: Jan Gerritsen (Manager EEN), Eoin Costello (SME Innovation Advocate). May 2012 Your Ref: ENT-CIP-09-C-N02S003 DESCRIPTION Info2Innovate national programme for Enterprise Europe Network was a special action for DG Enterprise, European Union involving a national series of workshops, focus groups and seminars over a period of twelve months. The objective of the programme was to identify obstacles that SMEs encounter in engaging in innovation and formulate a range of recommendations to DG Enterprise for future programmes of relevant supports. An additional objective of the programme was to identify innovation services and supports for SMEs in Ireland, map them in a web directory and present this via a series of events nationally. 1
  2. The objectives of the EU Specific Action – “Innovation Information

    Days for SMEs” include: A. Identification and documentation of all innovation support services nationally and in specific regions. B. Improvement of awareness of SMEs about existing innovation support services, tools and instruments. C. Detection of gaps and overlaps in the provision of existing innovation support services. D. Improvement of coordination and cooperation between public, private and business led service providers. E. Presentation of all available innovation support services from local to European level in a user friendly manner. This report is composed of two parts; Part 1 contains an outline of the actions carried out in completion of WP4 and WP5 of this programme. Part 2 contains detailed analysis of the results of the survey of attendees carried out during Phase 2 of the Info2Innovate seminars. 2
  3. Part 1 – Report on the Workshops and Focus Groups

    completed in Phase 1 Introduction This report covers WP4 and elements of WP5 (6 events were completed in 2011 as Focus Groups and workshops). Work in phase 1 was a preamble to the six national seminars which took place in 2012. Activities completed under WP4 and WP5 In conjunction with partner organisations a series of workshops and focus groups were organised at strategically important locations around Ireland. The programme of sessions took place over a period of three months, 6 events were attended by 55 participants in total who generated 95 individual suggestions and recommendations. Criteria for invitations to participants In compiling the programme the objective was to engage with all aspects of the small business innovation spectrum from individual small business owners (both those with experience in engaging in innovation and those with no experience) service providers, academics, business support organisations and other relevant stakeholders. Flow of the Day The objective of each event was to test the work in progress on the Info2Innovate Directory and to obtain feedback from the participants on: • Functionality / User Friendliness of the Info2Innovate web directory. • Gaps or Overlaps in the information provided in the directory. • Selection Criteria for End-users (SMEs). • The gaps or obstacles that small businesses experience in engaging in Innovation. • Any other useful comments / contributions etc. 3
  4. The programme for each Focus Group Meeting was as follows:

    • Jan Gerritsen (Manager EEN Ireland at Enterprise Ireland) made a short introduction. • Eoin Costello (Small business innovation expert) acted as moderator and set the context for the subject of innovation particularly as it pertains to small businesses. • Fidelma Romano (Enterprise Ireland) demonstrated the functionality of the Info2Innovate directory. Audience The table below contains an analysis of the attendees at each workshop. Focus Group/Workshop location and numbers in attendance Attendee types Cork - 11 participants Members of the Cork Entrepreneurship Steering Group which included representatives of ‘Enterprise Support Agencies’ (such as the Enterprise Board), the South West Regional Authority and owner managers of SMEs. Dublin – 6 participants Small business owners, academics, business support organisations, a consultant. Shannon Enterprise Ireland – 12 participants Business support organisation staff from various functions within Enterprise Ireland. Shannon Chamber of Commerce – 4 participants Small business owners, business support organisations. Sligo Seed Capital Event – 14 participants Small business owners, business support organisations, consultants. Sligo Self Start Today – 8 participants The majority were individuals considering establishing an innovative business or were early stage start-ups. 4
  5. Analysis of feedback received at the Info2Innovate focus groups and

    workshops A number of key themes were explored in detail with each focus group as follows: 1. Feedback on the content and structure of the Info2Innovate web directory. 2. Feedback on the technical and usability aspects of the Info2Innovate web directory. 3. Feedback on the obstacles/gaps participants experienced in engaging in innovation or in the provision of innovation Services to small business. Please see Appendix 1 for the detailed analysis of the issues raised at each focus group and the resulting responses/actions of the team. The table below contains an analysis of the items arising at the focus groups and workshops under the heading of usefulness to small businesses. Focus Group/Workshop location Feedback Received Cork Overall the response was positive with specific comments including "It's a brilliant piece of work, it just needs a bit of work on the filters." and "It will be very useful, indeed crucial and not just for innovation. The granularity will be very useful." One reservation was can it truly help a complete beginner focus on who they should talk to or where they should go? Dublin All participants believed that the directory would be of considerable benefit apart from a lady who (as a small business owner) was somewhat unconvinced that any services could be of help to an SME in her personal experience. Shannon Chamber of Commerce The majority said it will be extremely beneficial. Individual comments included “Nothing out there like it. “ “SMEs are not aware of what’s available and they get overwhelmed when go digging for information.”, “The advantage is that the results are short and concise”. 5
  6. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon This audience felt that the

    webpage needed work before it would be suited to the SME market. One commented that it “is a very flat experience, not encouraging or stimulating”. Another comment was that it is not SME focussed enough. Sligo Seed Capital Event The majority said it will be extremely beneficial. Individual comments included “Simple to use and very user friendly” and “On first impression very helpful and would bring clarity to the wide range of choices available. “ Sligo Self Start Today The 8 participants at the workshop said yes. 6
  7. Recommendations Arising from Phase 1 Based on the findings made

    in our workshops and focus groups we make the following recommendations: • Improvement of awareness of SMEs about existing innovation support services, tools and instruments. From the workshops a key obstacle to SMEs engaging in innovation are a lack of basic innovation skills. For many SMEs misconceptions as to the meaning of the term innovation and its relevance to their daily activities is common. Proposal: The use of short structured training and certification programmes for innovation is recommended. This would be based primarily on a series of flexible relevant tools delivered via eLearning materials that the user can apply in work and life situations. • Detection of gaps and overlaps in the provision of innovation support service from diverse providers A majority of small businesses are fearful of engaging in innovation due to the perceived risk, cost and difficulty involved. Cross-institutional “innovation mentors/coaches” emerged as a key recommendation as a way in which small business innovation could be encouraged. Proposal: Commence a programme of providing Innovation Mentors potentially using Enterprise Ireland’s Mentor Programme as a model (http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Management/Leadership-and-Management-Development/ Mentor-Grant.shortcut.html ). The Mentors would be aware of the full range of supports available to SMEs across all support agencies and would actively support the SME in introducing innovation tools and projects over a course of nine mentor sessions. • Improvement of coordination and cooperation between public, private and business led service providers. There are no immediate recommendations in this area. 7
  8. • The next phase of the project Comments from participants

    that related to the next EU programme in respect of this specific action included: • What do EEN regard as success for this Info2Innovate directory? Is it traffic to the page, is it queries received? • Provide a manner in which the directory can remain relevant and up to date by enabling the participants listed in the directory to login and update their own details. There will be a provision in the new work contract with Enterprise Europe Network to maintain the Directory going forward. 8
  9. Part 2 – Report on the Info2Innovate Seminar Innovation Survey

    completed in Phase 2 Executive Summary Sectors Represented by Attendees: On average 45% of attendees were from the ‘Services’ sector (when academic institutions are included in this category). The next most highly represented sector were ‘Enterprise Support Agencies’ (Business Innovation Centres, Enterprise Ireland, Chambers of Commerce, Regional Development Agencies, InterTradeIreland etc) at 35% of attendees on average. On average ‘ICT’ and ‘Manufacturing’ representatives accounted for approximately 10% each of attendees. Industry Sector Patterns within individual Seminars: In Dublin ‘Services’ represented 67% of participants while the lowest was ‘Manufacturing’ at 3% of attendees. In Sligo the largest sectoral representation was ‘Enterprise Support Agencies’ (at 50% of attendees) while the lowest was ‘ICT’ at 6%. In Cork the largest sectoral representation was ‘Services’ (at 43% of attendees) while the lowest was ‘ICT’ at 9%. In Galway the largest sectoral representation was ‘Services’ (at 40% of attendees) while the lowest was ‘ICT’ at 8%. Waterford’s largest sectoral representation was ‘Services’ (at 49% of attendees) while the lowest was ‘Manufacturing’ at 8%. Pattern of Survey Completion Rate by Seminar event and by industry type: As a percentage of the total attendance the Galway seminar provided the highest participation rate in the survey with 53% of attendees returning a completed questionnaire. The lowest was recorded at Dublin at 36% of attendees. Dublin was interesting in that none of the enterprise support agency staff returned a completed survey. Galway provided the best spread of participation in the survey across the participant types. Galway and Waterford potentially provide the greatest direct insight into SME experiences and needs in respect of innovation as they had the highest number of surveys returned by SMEs. 9
  10. Summary of Regional Responses to Innovation Levels Practiced: Across all

    the seminars on average attendees feel their practice of innovation is strongest in ‘Process Innovation’, ‘Product Development Innovation’ and ‘Internal IT systems Innovation’. They indicate it is weakest in ‘Brand and Marketing Innovation’, ‘Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation’ and ‘Financial & Business Model Innovation’. While on average ‘Good’ was selected in respect of ‘Development of staff in Innovation Practices’, this category also had the highest individual selections of ‘Very Low’ in certain regions. Analysis of Requested Supports for Innovation: Of the 123 returned survey forms, from across all the seminars, 61 attendees (50%) selected ‘Financial Support for Innovation’ as the primary support they need. This was followed by ‘Off Site Innovation Mentoring’ (42%) and ‘Onsite Innovation Coaching’ (39%). 10
  11. Introduction During Phase 2 of this specific action a series

    of Info2Innovate seminars were conducted at key regional centres in southern Ireland. The objectives of the Info2Innovate seminars included the following: • Provide information and a degree of education to attendees on why innovation is important and what innovation is. • Provide a demonstration of how the new Info2Innovate directory operates and how to find the supports that are right for the development of attendees businesses. • Hear from some of the main Service Providers about the benefits of current services relevant to innovation. Participants were invited to stay after the lunch to join the round table discussion of individual questions that participants wanted expert feedback on. Participants were also invited to have One-on-One consultations with EEN technology experts. A number of the seminars opened with an address by Minister John Perry T.D., the Junior Minister for Small Business. Details of the Seminar Phase Locations: Waterford, Sligo, Dublin, Galway and Cork Dates: The Sligo event was held on 12th April, Dublin 25th April, Galway 18th April, Cork 10th May and Waterford 17th May. Organisers: The relevant Chamber partners and EEN head office. Means of registering: Notification and registration for the event was processed via the events page on the EEN Ireland Website. Survey: A sample survey form is contained in Appendix 2. Sample Seminar Agenda: A sample agenda is contained in Appendix 3. Presenters: IntertradeIreland, Business Innovation Centres, Enterprise Ireland, Chambers of Commerce, relevant local bodies such at third level institutes and incubation centres. 11
  12. Composition of Seminar Attendees by Industry Type This information was

    captured from the attendance list provided by the Chamber of Commerce responsible for organising the event. The average across the 5 seminars is represented in the table below and displays a preponderance of ‘Services’ and ‘Enterprise Support Agencies’ amongst the attendees. 45% of attendees on average were from the ‘Service’ sector (when academic institutions are included in this category). The next most highly represented sector were ‘Enterprise Support Agencies’ (Business Innovation Centres, Enterprise Ireland, Chambers of Commerce, Regional Development Agencies, InterTradeIreland etc) at 35% of attendees on average. ICT and ‘Manufacturing’ representatives accounted on average for 10% each of attendees. Figure 1: Average industry type of attendees When one examines the detail within each event in Dublin Services represented 67% of participants while the lowest was ‘Manufacturing’ at 3% of attendees. In Sligo the largest sectoral representation was ‘Enterprise Support Agencies’ (at 50% of attendees) while the lowest was ICT at 6%. In Cork the largest sectoral representation was Services (at 43% of attendees) while the lowest was ICT at 9%. In Galway the largest sectoral representation was Services (at 12
  13. 40% of attendees) while the lowest was ICT at 8%.

    Waterford’s largest sectoral representation was Services (at 49% of attendees) while the lowest was ‘Manufacturing’ at 8%. Figure 2: Analysis of attendees by industry type at each individual seminar. Based on information extracted from the completed survey sheets the individual sectors represented at each event were as follows: Dublin: Telecom, retail and export, education and technology, charity, FMCG sector, web video production, digital media, aqua-culture in estuaries, engineering development and optimisation, healthcare, ICT, food Services, logistics warehousing channel management, business consultancy, training & development, R&D consultancy, public relations consultancy, executive search, sales outsourcing to software companies, Cork: ‘Manufacturing’, car parking management, career training, natural gas industry, automation lean consultancy, technology recruitment, ICT, chemical industry, electronic design, internet provider, online procurement, Sligo: Aftermarket automotive (SaaS-DaaS), furniture design and ‘Manufacturing’, training and education for tendering, engineering Services 13
  14. Galway: ‘Manufacturing’, software, IT, Services, engineering, management consultancy and language

    teaching, web design, seaweed processing, medical devices. Waterford: Property lettings and management, technology and health fitness, medical device for healthcare, hospitality, digital media, social enterprise & community enterprise, life coach, ICT, Social Media, environmental Services, software development. 14
  15. Detailed Report of the Results of the Info2Innovate Seminar Survey

    How the Survey was Conducted At each event the master of ceremonies/moderator announced that a survey was being conducted as part of the programme of events for the seminar. It was explained that the results would form part of the report on the specific action to DG Enterprise. Before the coffee break survey forms were circulated to individual participants. As participants returned from the coffee break they returned the completed survey forms to a member of the Info2Innovate team. The survey comprised three multiple choice questions and one free form field. The questions were: A. Indicate the type of respondent (SME, Advisor etc.). B. Indicate the current level of innovation practiced broken down across Low to Good. C. Indicate the supports required to increase innovation. Limitations and Notes: In examining the responses to individual categories of innovation practice the responses indicated by the respondents depended on their sector type (an aqua-culture company would not have a ‘Packaging’ component to their business and they would have left this blank). Also it should be noted that these are their personal perceptions of their performance (or that of their clients), an external benchmarking exercise could result in very different findings. Finally a high percentage of the completed surveys were returned from SME advisors or other support organisations and therefore are potentially a secondary source of views of the state of innovation activity of their clients. 15
  16. Analysis of the Survey Data from all Info2Innovate Seminars Participation

    Rate Figure 3: Percentage of attendees that returned a completed survey. Comment: As a percentage of the attendance the Galway seminar provided the highest participation rate in the survey with 53% of attendees returning a completed questionnaire. The lowest was recorded at Sligo 16
  17. Analysis of survey respondents by industry type This information was

    captured from the returned survey sheets. Figure 4: Industry type indicated on the returned survey sheets. Comment: Galway provided the best spread of participation across the participant types. Dublin was interesting in that none of the enterprise support agency staff returned a completed survey. In Sligo completed surveys were received from a balance of all groups. From this analysis it might be concluded that the Sligo survey provided the broadest views but is biased towards second hand interpretations of needs (due to the preponderance of agency replies) while Galway potentially provides the greatest direct insight into SME experience at they had the highest number of surveys returned by SMEs. It is encouraging that across all the seminars the highest level of responses were received from SME participants, it suggests that the data provided is informed by direct experience. 17
  18. Question 1 - Analysis of Responses to the Question “Indicate

    current level of Innovation practiced in each business area” Dublin Results Dublin attendees indicated that average engagement in innovation across all business processes was deemed “Good” in 35% of responses. The next highest category was “Low” at 26%. Within these average figures ‘Process Innovation’ was ascribed as “Good” by the majority (54%) as was ‘Product Development Innovation’ (‘Good’ 58% of responses). ‘Customer Support/Service Innovation’ saw deviation from the earlier high results for ‘Good’ and fell to 43% of responses in the category of ‘Good’. ‘Brand and Marketing Innovation’ presented a mixed picture, ‘Low’, ’Neutral’ and ’Good’ all received similar percentages of the responses. Dublin attendees indicated that ‘Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation’ is a weak area in Dublin with 44% of respondees indicated ‘Low’ innovation in this area. There was a similar response in respect of ‘Financial & Business Model Innovation’ with 40% of replies selecting ‘Low’ for this category (although the total number of responses for this category were lower than for other categories). Dublin attendees did not provide insights on the matter of ‘Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation’ with the majority selecting the ‘Neutral’ category (35%). ‘Internal IT systems Innovation’ was indicated to be a relatively strong area (i.e. ‘Good’) by 38% of respondents while 36% indicated ‘Good’ for ‘Development of staff in Innovation practices’ however 14% selected ‘Very Low’ for this category. 18
  19. Average innovation practice across all innovation types for Dublin respondents

    Figure 5: Average innovation practiced across all categories of innovation in Dublin. When an average was calculated across all the innovation types Dublin participants’ responses indicated that the level of innovation practiced is ‘Good’ in 35% of situations. However the next highest average was in the category of ‘Low’ at 26%. 19
  20. Results for individual categories of innovation activity Innovation practice 1

    - Process Innovation Innovation practice 2 – Product Development Innovation 20
  21. Innovation practice 3 – Customer Support/Service Innovation Innovation practice 4

    – Brand and Marketing Innovation 21
  22. Innovation practice 5 – Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation

    Innovation practice 6 – Financial & Business Model Innovation 22
  23. Innovation practice 7 – Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation Innovation practice 8 –

    Internal IT systems Innovation 23
  24. Innovation practice 9 – Development of staff in Innovation practices

    24
  25. Cork Results Cork attendees indicated that average engagement in innovation

    across all business processes was deemed “Good” in 25% of responses with 17% selecting ‘Very Good’. The next highest category was “Neutral” at 29%. Within these average figures ‘Process Innovation’ was ascribed as “Very Good” by the majority (36%) as was ‘Product Development Innovation’ (‘Very Good’ 41% of responses). ‘Customer Support/Service Innovation’ saw deviation from the earlier high results for ‘Very Good’ and fell to 50% of responses in the category of ‘Good’. ‘Brand and Marketing Innovation’ presented a mixed picture, ‘Low’(14%), ’Neutral’(29%) and ’Good’ (43%) all highly represented, while ‘Very Low’ was selected by 14% of attendees. Cork attendees indicated that ‘Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation’ is a relatively weak area in Cork with 29% of respondees indicated ‘Low’ innovation in this area and 38% indicating neutral. There was a similar response in respect of ‘Financial & Business Model Innovation’ with 32% of replies selecting ‘Low’ for this category and 50% ‘Neutral’ (although the total number of responses for this category were lower than for other categories). Cork attendees did not provide insights on the matter of ‘Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation’ with the majority selecting the ‘Neutral’ category (60%). ‘Internal IT systems Innovation’ was indicated to be a relatively weak area (i.e. ‘Low’) by 33% of respondents while 41% indicated ‘Low’ for Development of staff in Innovation practices. 25
  26. Average innovation practice across all innovation types for Cork respondents

    Figure 6: Average innovation practiced across all categories of innovation in Cork. 26
  27. Results for individual categories of innovation activity Innovation practice 1

    - Process Innovation Innovation practice 2 – Product Development Innovation 27
  28. Innovation practice 3 – Customer Support/Service Innovation Innovation practice 4

    – Brand and Marketing Innovation 28
  29. Innovation practice 5 – Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation

    Innovation practice 6 – Financial & Business Model Innovation 29
  30. Innovation practice 7 – Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation Innovation practice 8 –

    Internal IT systems Innovation 30
  31. Innovation practice 9 – Development of staff in Innovation practices

    31
  32. Galway Results Galway attendees indicated that average engagement in innovation

    across all business processes was deemed “Good” in 37% of responses with 26% selecting ‘’Neutral’ as the next highest. Within these average figures ‘Process Innovation’ was ascribed as ‘Good’ by the majority (50%) as was ‘Product Development Innovation’ (‘Good’ 46% of responses). ‘Customer Support/Service Innovation’ saw deviation from the earlier high results for ‘Good’ and fell to 35% of responses in the category of ‘Good’. ‘Brand and Marketing Innovation’ presented a mixed picture, ‘Low’(14%), ’Neutral’(21%) and ’Good’ (36%). Galway attendees indicated that ‘Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation’ is a relatively strong area in Galway with 35% of respondees indicated ‘Good’ innovation practice in this area and 23% indicating ‘Low’. In respect of ‘Financial & Business Model Innovation’ 41% of replies selected ‘Neutral’ for this category and 31% ‘Low’. Galway attendees did not provide insights on the matter of ‘Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation’ with the majority selecting the ‘Neutral’ category (53%). ‘Internal IT systems Innovation’ was indicated to be a relatively strong area (i.e. ‘Good’) by 42% of respondents while 32% indicated ‘Good’ for Development of staff in Innovation practices however 22% selected ‘Very Low’. 32
  33. Average innovation practice across all innovation types for Galway respondents

    Figure 7: Average innovation practiced across all categories of innovation in Galway. 33
  34. Results for individual categories of innovation activity Innovation practice 1

    - Process Innovation Innovation practice 2 – Product Development Innovation 34
  35. Innovation practice 3 – Customer Support/Service Innovation Innovation practice 4

    – Brand and Marketing Innovation 35
  36. Innovation practice 5 – Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation

    Innovation practice 6 – Financial Innovation 36
  37. Innovation practice 7 – Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation Innovation practice 8 –

    Internal IT systems Innovation 37
  38. Innovation practice 9 – Development of staff in Innovation practices

    38
  39. Sligo Results Sligo attendees indicated that average engagement in innovation

    across all business processes was deemed “Good” in 27% of responses with 27% selecting ‘’Neutral’ and 27% selecting ‘Low’. It is possible that the level of ‘Neutral’ selections is due to the high level of responses received from Advisors at this event as opposed to individual SMEs. Within these average figures ‘Process Innovation’ was ascribed as “Good” by 36% but ‘Low’ by the same percentage (36%). ‘Product Development Innovation’ was indicated as ‘Good’ by the majority of responses (38%). ‘Customer Support/Service Innovation’ saw 36% of responses in the category of ‘Low’. ‘Brand and Marketing Innovation’ was seen as strong at 50% selecting in the ‘Good’ category. Sligo attendees indicated that ‘Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation’ is a relatively weak area in Sligo with 43% of respondees indicated ‘Low’ innovation in this area. There was a similar response in respect of ‘Financial & Business Model Innovation’ with 31% of replies selecting ‘Low’ for this category and 39% ‘Neutral’. Sligo attendees clearer than other regions on ‘Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation’, 42% selected ‘Low’ and 42% selected ‘Neutral’. ‘Internal IT systems Innovation’ was indicated to be a relatively strong area (i.e. ‘Good’) by 46% of respondents while 36% indicated ‘Low’ for Development of staff in Innovation practices. 39
  40. Average innovation practice across all innovation types for Sligo respondents

    Figure 8: Average innovation practiced across all categories of innovation in Sligo. 40
  41. Results for individual categories of innovation activity Innovation practice 1

    - Process Innovation Innovation practice 2 – Product Development Innovation 41
  42. Innovation practice 3 – Customer Support/Service Innovation Innovation practice 4

    – Brand and Marketing Innovation 42
  43. Innovation practice 5 – Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation

    Innovation practice 6 – Financial & Business Model Innovation 43
  44. Innovation practice 7 – Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation Innovation practice 8 –

    Internal IT systems Innovation 44
  45. Innovation practice 9 – Development of staff in Innovation practices

    45
  46. Waterford Waterford attendees indicated that average engagement in innovation across

    all business processes was deemed “Good” in 37% of responses with 11% selecting ‘’Very Good’. The next highest category was “Neutral” at 26%. Within these average figures ‘Process Innovation’ was ascribed as “Good” by the majority (46%). ‘Product Development Innovation’ was ‘Neutral’ for 39% of responses. ‘Customer Support/Service Innovation’ was ‘Good’ in 38% of responses. ‘Brand and Marketing Innovation’ presented a mixed picture, ‘Low’(23%), ’Neutral’(31%) and ’Good’ (27%) all broadly represented. Waterford attendees indicated that ‘Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation’ is a relatively strong area in Waterford with 35% of respondees indicated ‘Good’ innovation in this area and 35% indicating neutral. In respect of ‘Financial & Business Model Innovation’ with 33% of replies selected ‘Low’ for this category and 33% ‘Neutral’. In common with other regions Waterford attendees did not provide insights on the matter of ‘Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation’ with the majority selecting the ‘Neutral’ category (52%). ‘Internal IT systems Innovation’ was indicated to be a relatively strong area (i.e. ‘Good’) by 32% of respondents while 39% indicated ‘Good’ for Development of staff in Innovation practices however 11% indicated ‘Very Low’. 46
  47. Average innovation practice across all innovation types for Galway respondents

    Figure 9: Average innovation practiced across all categories of innovation in Waterford 47
  48. Innovation practice 1 - Process Innovation Innovation practice 2 –

    Product Development Innovation 48
  49. Innovation practice 3 – Customer Support/Service Innovation Innovation practice 4

    – Brand and Marketing Innovation 49
  50. Innovation practice 5 – Route to market/ Sales Process Innovation

    50
  51. Innovation practice 6 – Financial & Business Model Innovation Innovation

    practice 7 – Distribution/Packaging/Logistics Innovation 51
  52. Innovation practice 8 – Internal IT systems Innovation Innovation practice

    9 – Development of staff in Innovation practices 52
  53. Question 2: Analysis of Responses to the Question “Which supports

    would be of most benefit to induce engagement in innovation” In the context of this report the difference between coaching and mentoring is that coaching is task oriented and performance driven. The focus is on concrete issues. Mentoring is relationship oriented. It seeks to provide a safe environment where the mentee shares whatever issues they face in seeking to implement innovation. Mentoring is development driven. Its purpose is to develop the individual’s innovation capability not only for the current job, but also for the future. Average result across all seminars Figure 10: Average intensity of reports requested across the entire programme of seminars Comment: Offsite innovation mentoring, onsite innovation coaching and Financial Support for Innovation were the highest requested supports on average. The lowest requested support on average was Innovation Training on site. 53
  54. Figure 11: Individual supports requested broken down by seminar location

    Individual supports requested by respondents Galway • Interested in collaboration, I have incubation space available for high tech companies • Networking for SMEs • Assistance with marketing of our Services Sligo • An external opinion on product development to balance that of our CEO, he's a perfectionist and nothing ever gets released to the market Cork • Export advice 54
  55. • Finance for young entrepreneurs-reduce the amount of financial support

    on the New Frontiers programme and pay more entrepreneurs a smaller amount as a result • Bridging finance based on expression of interest from outside distributor • Not enough supports for the Service industry • How do companies get added to the directory Dublin • Support on negotiating technology licences/joint ventures etc with international partners. • Funding for early stage IP protection and patenting costs • Innovation training and coaching from trusted advisor that is suitably trained Waterford • Need help with marketing and publicity • Create awareness among established SMEs that they can increase their business with an innovation strategy to stimulate change. 55
  56. Appendix 1 – Detailed Analysis of Issues Raised at Focus

    Groups and Resulting Responses in Phase 1 Table 1 - The table below contains an analysis of the items arising at the focus groups and workshops under the heading of content and structure of the Info2Innovate web directory. Focus Group/Workshop location Feedback Received Action Cork Is the information captured from live data feeds from the underlying websites? This has been captured from current data from websites. Cork The appearance is very formal looking, perhaps should have an eye catching heading like "Find out what you need to know to innovate". Addressed by the search engine optimisation strategy – The H2 will contain a sentence that addresses this. Cork The word "Practical" is not clear, proposed alternatives were Supports, infrastructures, resource centres, exploitation resources. The change from “Practical” to “Innovation Infrastructure” has been made. Cork The caption "Regionally Restricted" is not sufficiently explanatory. “Regionally Restricted” has been changed to “Available to Gaeltacht areas” Dublin Why is Abtran outsourcing included under Finance, should outsourcing be under finance? Abtran is a financial outsourcing company and therefore included under the category finance. Dublin How will the directory be maintained going forward? There is no provision at present to maintain this Directory going forward. Dublin For some searches the list of results can be too long, if a provider is listed on the last page they will never be found. If a result returns 280 results perhaps display 50 results Fidelma suggested that ticking the Filter Support categories should help drill the relevance of the results down further however 56
  57. per page instead of 10 so that viewers might feel

    motivated to persevere in examining more of the entries. Michael said that this had not worked when he did it. The filtering process has been changed to displays 50 items per page. Dublin Branding for the page is confusing according to a number of the participants. One participant didn’t see a connection with EEN or the EU as being obvious from the page. He wondered if the page was provided by a private company. At the minimum he feels it needs an EU logo. Also the page needs to be more integrated with the other EEN offerings both as a benefit to EEN and to be more informative to searchers. Need something like “Still haven’t found what you are looking for, check out the EEN website!” on the page in his opinion. An introductory front-page integrated into the EEN website which contains the EEN Logo and also explanatory information about the Directory. We hope to include a 2nd Heading with either “What is innovation”? Or “Thinking of starting to Innovate”? Dublin Need a Frequently Asked Questions section for searchers. FAQs is now a separate section included in the Directory. Dublin Could it be broken down by region and geographical area as a first step to help searchers narrow the results. Fidelma explained that if you enter a geographical region in the free text search box then the results from the drop downs are filtered accordingly. However the participants felt that this is too obscure for the average SME. Dublin Perhaps have a box identifying “What’s new” and list the most recent entries there so that it We have included a “What’s new” box for new entries on the front-page. 57
  58. is clear to searchers that the directory is “live”. Shannon

    Chamber of Commerce Include a basic video clip explaining the service plus a tutorial on how to use it. Helen suggested the approach used on the website called “Future SME” as an approach that could be useful. We are planning to demonstrate how to use the Directory at all our seminars. We have also included on the Front Page of the Directory a “How to use this Directory Guide” Shannon Chamber of Commerce Can the contact details of an individual at each organisation be included in the results? Contact names change from time to time so we have included a direct weblink which contains the most up to date information and contact name. Shannon Chamber of Commerce Each category needs a short video link explaining what each category can do for them. We have included a pop up descriptive caption over each category. Shannon Chamber of Commerce It isn’t clear enough exactly what it does. Also include a bit about the EEN Network. The Directory is integrated as part of the EEN Website and this information can be accessed from the Homepage. Shannon Chamber of Commerce Include social media indicators that others have found this page useful – “Rate this Page” or “Like” from Facebook which could generate increased trust and usage. No Shannon Chamber of Commerce Having a couple of case studies on the page would be a help. A separate Case Studies section has been created in the Directory with testimonials from companies on what they in particular found useful about the 58
  59. innovation service/support which they have used. Shannon Chamber of Commerce

    Include a link “Would you like to be included in this directory” and outline the process for being added – could motivate more providers to get involved. No. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon There’s too much drilling down through the options. The mapping document to the Directory has several layers so there will be some drilling down through the programmes. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon One attendee asked whether EEN intends tracking visitors, capturing email addresses etc to provide further information to the visitor. He suggested asking visitors to register and then follow up. There is no provision in the Directory to do this. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon The structure is constructed on the basis of the Services available rather than on the basis of the users’ needs. We cannot include all possibilities of what the user needs but we have included all the supports and Services into one Directory so that the user can choose from the available supports and Services. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon The “?” help symbol beside the “Filter by Size of Company” is not instructive enough – it contains very helpful information but is not visible enough. Looking at this to find a more suitable icon. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon Need a short video clip explaining what the page does and sample companies that have used the page. No provision has been made for this in the Directory 59
  60. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon Replace the body of the

    page with a series of questions – “I am a X and I want to Y” – compile a list of the Top 10 questions that SMEs ask. Perhaps this could be a self-diagnostic tool which would use a series of questions to narrow down the information the user needs “Who are you and what are you looking for”. We have compiled a series of questions under the FAQ section in the Directory. We have narrowed down the search for companies by asking the questions on Type of company making the enquiry ie. “I am… SME” “My company is … years trading and “My Business area is…” Sligo Seed Capital Event Simplify the wording used on the page to assist beginners with selection criteria. We have made company selection criteria more user friendly. Sligo Seed Capital Event Perhaps move R&D out of Financial and into a more relevant section. No Sligo Seed Capital Event Embed videos from the information providers featured in the searchable database. Searchers can access videos from providers through the Weblink to the provider. We have no facility to incorporate this into the Directory Sligo Seed Capital Event Provide personal contact details for individuals associated with each service featuring in the database. The contact person for individual service change from time to time so where possible we have included a general email address and will all programmes we have a direct weblink to the service which contains the most up to date contact details. Sligo Seed Capital Event Providing dynamic text as people progress through the drop downs which identifies “Other people that looked for this searched for” would be potentially helpful. No 60
  61. Sligo Seed Capital Event Shopping basket type functionality whereby if

    you were digging through a lot of searches and information on the webpage you could book mark certain info so at the end of your session you would have the info you want to go back. Looking into this as a possibility. Sligo Self Start Today Could the search be customised based on whether you are a client of EI or the CEB or a HPSU. Reason – to be able to see Services you are eligible for and not see Services you are not eligible for. This is not possible with this Directory. Sligo Seed Capital Event One participant asked if the directory could be structured by topic (very focussed on sectors such as Green/Renewables) or by sector (say engineering). At the moment 4 sectors are provided. Supports to Renewables occur across all industrial sectors and as such it would not be ideal to separate them out and treat them as a specific sector. Sligo Self Start Today List of relevant consultants available that can help fill out the more difficult forms for example beside FP7 would feature relevant consultants. There is a link to the NCPs contact details in the Directory under the FP7 programme. Sligo Self Start Today Trust is a big issue for SMEs, participants requested that those Services in their directory that were used by Irish SMEs before be indicated and a recommendation be enabled. The testimonials/case studies in the Directory will give the user what service/support a company used and his opinion of what benefit was transferred. Sligo Self Start Today The ability to post a question on the site for general viewing. No provision was made in the Directory to post questions. 61
  62. Sligo Self Start Today Show links to other similar Services

    across Europe. We do have links to other European providers of Services which can be accessed through the Directory. Sligo Self Start Today Idea box that could enable people to submit confidential ideas to EEN. Putting confidential ideas on the site could cause intellectual property rights problems. Table 2 - The table below contains an analysis of the items arising at the focus groups and workshops under the heading of the technical and usability aspects of the Info2Innovate web directory. Focus Group/Workshop location Feedback Received Action Cork If one types "I think I will innovate" in Google will this site appear in the results? Addressed by the search engine optimisation strategy Cork Is size of company "my size" or the size of the service provider I am searching for? The Text has changed from “Filter by size “…to “I am a..” to clarify this. Cork Need to make the filter option "filter by size of company" more obvious as to its meaning. What about pre-start up researchers? The Text has changed from “Filter by size “…to “I am a..Micro/Small & Medium, Large company” Dublin Could the results be filtered by the entries that have been most recently updated in order to make it potentially more relevant to the searchers needs. When one participant searched he found an entry from 2007 in the results. A “What’s New” section is included to cater for any new Services/supports. Have removed 2007 from the Directory. 62
  63. Dublin One of the participants entered the word “grant” in

    the free text search box and no results came back for the word. When tested again results did come back. Dublin Could feature recommendations from other users on the Services listed to improve the trusted aspect of entries in the directory. The Testimonials/case studies page from companies that have used a particular service is included in the Directory. Dublin There is no back button on the top of each page of results. Previous/Next button included on both the top and bottom of each page. Dublin Perhaps displaying the location of the entries of the Services listed in the directory on a Google map could help searchers better see what is available to them in their area. This could be done as a next phase of the Directory if the opportunity arises. Dublin When a searcher clicks a drop down it obscures the drop down immediately below it and makes it harder to conduct an accurately filtered search. Looking at this. Shannon Chamber of Commerce Make it into an App so can interrogate it from a smartphone. No provision has been made for an App. For the Directory. Shannon Chamber of Commerce When one does a search get back 20 pages of results, there is a refine categories function but this is not immediately obvious to SME users. We have included “How to use this Directory” on the front page of the Directory which explains how to search the Directory. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon When Fidelma was illustrating the functionality of the search it failed to clear the text entered in the Search box (despite her The Free Search box now includes the “Clear Search” option so that it is clear to the 63
  64. clicking to clear the search)- after that the results continued

    to display results only in respect of the term in the search box, i.e. “Enterprise Ireland”. searcher to clear the text to enable a new search. Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon Would it use cookies to track visitors, if they return they would be able to see the documents they had consulted in the last visit. No. We are making a provision for a “shopping basket” Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon Speed to access relevant information is critical to SME users. Too many options in the search reduces this. Through the filtering process the options can be narrowed down. Sligo Seed Capital Event Multiple users trying to access the database simultaneously might cause the page to appear to be unavailable. Need to check with the developer that the database back end can handle dozens of simultaneous queries. The database can handle several thousand simultaneous enquiries. Sligo Seed Capital Event Search engine optimisation: need to make the URLs reflect the content to improve chances of appearing in searches. This will be addressed in the search engine optimisation of the directory. Sligo Seed Capital Event Ability to search by region – Observation from team: This might mislead searchers into believing that certain programmes are/are not available in their area. This option is available under the Free Search i.e. if the searcher inputs “southeast” all the Services/supports for that region in the directory will be returned. Sligo Seed Capital Event Ensure that Google analytics code is running on the site to observe how people use the site and when they encounter problems and give up. Google analytics is enabled in the Site 64
  65. Sligo Self Start Today Have cookies to remember what the

    same person looked at before when they come back a day later and change the colour of the link if they clicked on it before. No. We are looking at a shopping basket for users to put any relevant Services/supports they may have found interesting. Sligo Self Start Today Most people short cut the navigation by using free search. One participant said that if he does 3 searches that don’t return a result he leaves. Recommendation – remove search. Sligo Self Start Today Most people felt there was too much text. Is not immediately clear what the page offers to do for the visitor and only have 30 seconds to capture their interest. We have provided a short introductory page on what the directory can provide i.e. Thinking of starting to innovate? What is Innovation? Sligo Self Start Today Replace the body of the page with a video telling people what the purpose of the page is and put the directory headings on the left menu. We created a frontpage to include some of these options. Sligo Self Start Today Prioritise search results on the basis of most clicked as if get 380 results sorted alphabetically is off putting. Looking at this in the interim we have enabled random selection rather than alphabetical. Sligo Self Start Today Remove the directory and have more images in the main part of the page. When click on the menu option the main selection appears in the body of the page. We have created a frontpage of the Directory with an Image Video clip “What is Innovation” including short text about the Directory and How to Use the Directory which is more visually and verbally informative. The link to the Directory is included in the Menu Left hand side of the main body text. 65
  66. Table 3 - The table below contains an analysis of

    the items arising under the heading of the obstacles/gaps participants experienced in engaging in innovation or in the provision of innovation Services to small business. The table below contains an analysis of the items arising under the heading of obstacles SMEs encounter to engaging in innovation. Focus Group/Workshop location Feedback Received Theme Action Cork Michael from the Enterprise Board suggested it would be useful to have someone that would be able to have initial conversations with SMEs, a type of local referrer for incoming queries to the relevant "go to" guy for a particular need. Innovation coach Included in recommendations Cork Most SMEs don't get innovation when it comes to Sales and Marketing. Innovative marketing strategies within SMEs is a big gap in the landscape. Broadening the traditional concept of innovation Included in recommendations Cork The level of supports available to indigenous companies that do not intend exporting, these are excluded from the wide range of supports available to exporting companies. Nature of supports available Cork A gap for SMEs is access to the credibility and cash flow Access to tenders for SMEs 66
  67. that arises from government tenders. Other EU countries facilitate SMEs

    by breaking down larger relevant tenders into proportions that SMEs can bid for. Irish SMEs not winning contracts from the Irish government does not help when they are seeking to win the business of EU governments, the question that arises is "If you can't win your government's business why should we trust you with ours?". Cork FP7 is very hard for SMEs to navigate. There are great opportunities with considerable benefits to participating SMEs but they need a lot of help from support agencies. FP7 has so many programmes it is hard to navigate. Tracking all the new calls is hard work for SMEs. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Cork Need education in what constitutes innovation. SMEs need to understand that innovation embraces a while spectrum of activities. However it is important to note that not all innovation Education Included in recommendations 67
  68. activity is eligible for funding support. Cork A gap in

    the market is the area of partnering with other local SMEs to achieve scale to tackle new markets at lower joint costs. Partnering Dublin Clare feels that she is on her own to come up with innovative ideas for her business. She has no idea of what mentor skills are potentially available to her in the area of innovation. Mentoring in the area of innovation would be very useful to her. She feels completely out of the loop when she is constantly told “In business you need to keep re-inventing yourself”. She is very frustrated as she doesn’t know who can help her with that challenge. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Dublin Lack of supports for indigenous businesses: Clare said that the fact that support agencies say “If you are not exporting we are not Nature of supports available 68
  69. interested in you” is a big challenge for her business.

    Dublin Education: A number of the participants stated that there is a lot of confusion amongst SMEs about what Innovation is and what the term means, is it knowledge management, product design etc. Also SMEs are ignorant as to how to absorb new ideas and create new products and Services based on these. They feel it is all too risky. Education Included in recommendations Dublin SMEs are aware that networks are key to survival but they don’t know how to go about getting involved in networks. It is extremely hard for example to find a listing of technology clusters in Europe. User defined networks (such as a Google Circles network for travel businesses like Clare’s) would be very helpful to SMEs. Education and Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Dublin Plenty of case studies of SMEs that have successfully innovated would be helpful. Education Included in recommendations 69
  70. Dublin FP7: Calls that are currently open in the EU

    that are relevant to SMEs are hard for SMEs to access. Help in this area would be very useful. EI publishes a very useful "latest FP7 Call for Proposals" web resource; it would be worth including a pointer to this in the portal. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Dublin Need a blog for SMEs providing more information on innovation. Education Included in recommendations Shannon Chamber of Commerce SMEs that have the potential to grow using the tool need to be actively identified as they often don’t self select or put themselves forward. Innovation Coach role Included in recommendations Shannon Chamber of Commerce Knowing who to contact is the big challenge, which person to get through to. One solution is a good consultant who knows the industry and the people who can help you engage with the supporting agencies and get going successfully with innovation. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations 70
  71. Shannon Chamber of Commerce A recent EU Seminar that the

    Chamber were involved in was well attended but for many SMEs they feel it is a step too far to actively engage in innovation. Education and Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Shannon Chamber of Commerce Edmund mentioned a concept of an Innovation Consultant, available to interact directly with the SME to guide them through the process. He mentioned a successful programme they had been involved with in IT Productivity Services, they got a group of providers (all vetted by Shannon Development) together in a workshop format and invited SMEs to ask questions of the panel. SMEs were able to get different opinions and decide if they wanted to engage. Maybe have an Innovation Consultant as an enabler for each region, an “Innovation Czar” that would seek to engage as many companies as possible in the practice of innovation. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations 71
  72. Shannon Chamber of Commerce Lots of enterprise promotion programmes have

    lots of gaps, if the SME doesn’t fit the criteria there’s not much available. Nature of supports available Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon SMEs want practical solutions that will contribute immediately. Getting the message across that innovation is not tech heavy may help address the element of fear which puts SMEs off. Education and Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon For many SMEs when they hear the word innovation they immediately in their mind exclude themselves. A lot of SMEs do not understand what exactly the significance of the word Innovation is to them. Everything should start with an element of education i.e. “Innovation is.....”. Education and Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon A person that could act as an Innovation Mentor to SMEs would fill a gap in the current innovation landscape. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Enterprise Ireland North West Shannon Commercialisable ideas/opportunities for those seeking to start a new business Partnering 72
  73. – he felt there are not enough opportunity matching Services

    in existence at the moment. Sligo Seed Capital Event The ability to text chat with online support via messenger in realtime with people that have sufficient training to know where to send people for particular needs. Observation – EEN is believed to be a one stop shop. Part of the EEN mandate is to steer people in the right direction but in terms of business enquiries the Chamber EEN Partner would look after general queries, technical queries would go to EEN. Not guaranteed to be online so not viable. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Sligo Seed Capital Event One commentator asked why the web page doesn’t go the next step and provide specific resources so for example if he was looking for a software developer the web page would provide a directory of suitable people. Trusted providers Comment this is not within the scope of mapping exercise. Sligo Seed Capital Event One commentator felt that more private providers such as BDS to do searches of R&D Innovation Coach Included in recommendations 73
  74. supports for him that are appropriate. It was very expensive

    for him using BDS. A funding option to help companies to find the most appropriate service to them as his SME doesn’t have the capacity or time to engage with the search for appropriate Services. Another lady spends a lot of time looking at programmes and supports available and can’t figure out where she fits and in the end just gets confused. Observation – Perhaps EI Mentors should be trained in this role of advising on relevant programmes and Services. Sligo Seed Capital Event One participant felt that not for profit enterprises provide considerable value to the economy but are excluded when it comes to innovation supports and Services and she feels this is not rational. Nature of supports available Sligo Seed Capital Event Pooling people in a certain area/with a certain interest that want to join up with others to build a business together. Observation – Networks are featured under financial. Partnering 74
  75. Sligo Seed Capital Event One participant said that different agencies

    do not appear to know what other agencies do, there does not appear to be sufficient co-ordination. Co-ordination of supports available Observation: The Info2Innovate has the potential to give the agencies increased transparency in the spectrum of available Services. Sligo Seed Capital Event A database of financial instrument providers and business expansion funding would be helpful to accountants. Nature of supports available Sligo Self Start Today Advisory panel of experts available to them to advise. Innovation Coach Included in recommendations Sligo Self Start Today Too many different organisations providing different advice and programmes. Co-ordination of supports available Sligo Self Start Today Big gap/jump from CEB to EI and nothing in between. Nature of supports available 75
  76. Appendix 2 – Sample Survey Form 76

  77. 77

  78. Appendix 3 Sample Seminar Agenda 78

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