About this good practice
The most vulnerable group of actors dealing with Smart Specialisation are Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) which largely fall behind other players in terms of ability to innovate. Uneven distribution of innovation capacity is also seen in spatial dimension among and within Baltic Sea countries. Thus, TIBS, commenced in Vidzeme planning region (VPR) as one of the Go Smart BSR project and Go Smart&Excel BSR extension project deliverables and continued as permanent business support service, aims to improve innovation capacity of SMEs in the less developed regions.
Effective TIBS enable SMEs, residing in region with inadequate innovation ecosystem, to access transnational knowledge pool provided by extensive network of innovation actors, which in turn allows SMEs to establish more fruitful innovations generating partnerships. The process of cross-border partnership building is facilitated and managed by local innovation brokers. They evaluate SMEs profile, acknowledge needs and based on findings brokers offer client the best matching partnership alternatives available in the TIBS network, as well as provide follow up support for value added partnership building.
Stakeholders/beneficiaries which are responsible for and interested in the success of the practice involve industry (SMEs), R&D institutions, which benefit from commercialization of their technology, know-how and all level authorities, which benefit from improved economic performance of the local industry.
VPR budget for year-long Go Smart&Excel BSR extension project (innovation brokerage service represented main project activity) was EUR 65 918.75. Provision of innovation brokerage services required staff of 5-6 people (some of them part-time), including 1 innovation broker (full-time).
Evidence of success
Innovation brokerage services in VPR yielded following results (GoSmart BSR project period + GoSmart&Excel BSR project period): 162 (141+21) SMEs contacted, from them (34+12) SMEs received at least first stage broker services (SWOT analysis and following recommendations), from them 17 (9+8) had been matched by brokers with compatible businesses, from them 7 (5+2) SMEs with brokers assistance realized joint smart specialisation strategy project with partner from abroad.
Potential for learning or transfer
Transferable TIBS practices from the standpoint of VPR innovation broker: a) usage of scientifically based and by empirical feedback improved business evaluation and guidance methodology, which elaborates on value chain/network and smart specialisation approach. Methodology proved to be applicable also during pandemic crisis; b) exploitation of e-tool, which compiles and structures analytical business data from all over the TIBS network, thus enabling to swiftly offer former clients more suitable business partnership opportunities, as they emerge; c) weekly meetings with other brokers, which includes pitching sessions of the current brokers clients (SMEs). This practice facilitates more rapid partner matching and related issues-solving. These attributes coupled with more individual approach and more inclusive catchment area of the services are recognized as the assets which are able to significantly improve larger business support networks such as Enterprise Europe Network.