Subject of analysis within the first InnoBridge Peer Review workshop was the policy instrument of Lower Austria consisting of measures: the state aid scheme „Research and Development – R&D” and the “Innovation Coaching and Support”. InnoBridge project partners acted as critical friends and raised critical questions leading to new insights into potential improvement opportunities for both measures.

Let’s concentrate in this article on the “Innovation Coaching and Support”. This measure is carried out by the Technology and Innovation Partner (TIP) with a track record of over 27 years of experience. TIP, a joint initiative of the regional government of Lower Austria and the Economic Chamber, supports regional SMEs in order to increase their innovation capacities. The aim of TIP is to raise awareness of companies for innovation, to identify innovation potentials for introducing new ideas, to improving their competitiveness and to stimulate collaborations with external know-how and technology providers.

The Peer Review highlighted the intensive networking of the TIPs with all stakeholders of the regional innovation system on a regular basis and the proactive approach by visiting the regional SMEs on site as success factors. In total over 3.000 companies are supported and about 1.000 consulting cases are carried out by TIP every year. Based on the provided information by the TIP Joachim Haumann the critical friends pointed out the effective and important role of the TIPs in the process of R&D commercialisation: the spiders in the regional support network bridging the innovation gap through fostering the conversion of R&D results into commercial success.

TIP expects from InnoBridge new impulses to further develop its services – the Peer Review in Sofia fulfilled these expectations. Especially the critical questions raised by the highly committed partners led to intensive discussions, the findings were summed up in a SWOT analysis.

Innovation happens nowadays more and more often in a different way. There is a trend to introduce open innovation in companies in order to create more innovative and more successful products, processes or services. Peer Review discussion, combined with concrete examples from Tampere Region and Sofia, led to suggestions how TIP can further develop their more important coaching and facilitation role. At the same time traditional supporting services should be rethought – even though they are successful since decades – and verified if and how they can be integrated into/connected with such platforms.

The next steps for TIP is the elaboration of an action plan according to the Peer Review findings. Therefore TIP has identified the 4 following main topics:

• Development of new platform introducing new ways of fostering innovation between companies and idea providers, financiers and other actors of the ecosystem

• eTIP: electronical application process and digitalisation of reports in order to use the content through data analysis

• Development of events with competition character to sensibilise and motivate companies for certain topics

• New ways of involvement of private consultants like

       - calls for proposal aiming at new approaches for new supporting services

TIP are looking for further inputs to improve its existing services during the upcoming peer reviews and study visits in InnoBridge partner regions.

We thank all critical InnoBridge friends for the very fruitful Peer Review!