Implementation of the Action Plan in Flanders has paced up since October 2019: The activities related to the action plan have been mainstreamed and integrated into the day to day work of Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (FIE).
In relation to the implementation of Action 1, “Reshape the current Support to Strategic Research Centers (SSRC) instrument”, progress was made on the SRC Pilot case (Flanders Make) to deal with more demanding Key Performance Indicators as to realising higher TRL level (>4) research and transfer activities. Results so far show that Flanders Make has successfully managed to do so.
Further in relation to this action FIE and EWI (Flemish government policy department for Economy, Science and Innovation, and one the major policy stakeholders in NMP) jointly and successfully contributed to the 2019-2024 policy plans and budget of the newly established Flemish government.
Finally and as a result of joint FIE and EWI contributions, the Flemish government policy plans for 2019-2024 also pay particular attention to “more and better access to innovation for all”. This especially relevant also for NMP-REG as traditional and innovation adverse companies are a particular target group within the FIE Action Plan (see also Action 3).
Activities related to Action 2, "Support the Strategic Research Centres (SRCs) to become the "single point of contact" for innovation (SPOC) in their sector", took off. Initial plans for this Action have gradually been redirected into another direction. This as a result of evolution in policy views, supported and fed by interactions between FIE and the stakeholders in the innovation landscape (grouped via VLAIO Network and incl. also SRCs). A more networked model, according to the “no wrong door, no single door” principle, has become more likely. In this model, different parties from the VLAIO network, including SRCs themselves, would organise in a coordinated way signposting activities towards companies and actively forward them towards the SRC services.
Concerning Action 3, “Extend the range of (types of) companies serviced by SRC with a special emphasis on traditional or innovation-adverse companies in NMP”, two sub-actions are being executed.
First of all, FIE has been reshaping its available means and services to better service traditional/innovation-adverse companies. The emphases lies on low-treshold actions and services to promote innovation, make use of innovation instruments (funding or support), and - particularly for NMP-REG - to access services offered by SRCs. This is happening in close connection with development under A2 and partners in the “VLAIO network”. The FIE business plan for 2020 and onwards now integrates these elements. More work still needs to be done in 2020 by FIE to develop instruments to monitor and measure the success and impact of its efforts towards this target group.
Secondly, first tests for/with Innovation Boost pilot action have been performed within FMAKE with funding from FIE. The pilot action is currently still underway and 1st results are promising as to added value for the target group. Plans already exist to further expand this instrument (and related budget) at least for FMAKE in the short term. Other SRCs are following developments with interest. Further evaluation and developments will however be decisive as to the potential to mainstream this instrument to other or all SRCs within the life span of NMP-REG.