Transnational innovation voucher system and testing, implemented in the context of the Interreg Central Europe CENTROPE project.
The GP aims at succeeding the transition from a national voucher system to a transnational voucher system. The system supports the SMEs to get service from universities and R&D institutes abroad, thus providing financial support for 50 transnational science-to-business cooperations.
Priority was given to technology oriented projects, while all supported activities had to demonstrate innovative and scientific approach.
The supported activities were:
development of new products/prototypes; preparation of a Business Plan for innovative products;
development of new concepts, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, studies for problem solving;
development of a new service;
tailored training in new technologies;
product/service testing; economic impact assessment of new technologies;
analysis of technology transfer potential;
purchase of raw materials.
The main stakeholders were 7 business support organisations; the beneficiaries were the SMEs and the R&D service providers.
Supported with funds from the Central European 2007-2013 Transnational Cooperation Programme.
The Centrope budget was €250K, enabling 50 SMEs to benefit from €5,000 investment capital (without administrative costs).
Evidence of success
The initiative was successful because it facilitated the interregional cooperation between SMEs and R&D institutions in Central Europe.
KEY MEASURE TOTAL:
Applications Received: 66
Applications Approved: 52
SMEs Starting/Contracts Raised For Voucher Scheme: 40
SME Beneficiaries Completing R&D Centrope TT Projects: 34
170.000 EUR public fund financed the transnational pilot actions.
Low motivation of SMEs & R&D service providers at the programme start.
In many cases the value of vouchers is too small, only enough to cover part of research costs.
Regulations of CENTRAL EUROPE program provided a strict time & financial frame; administrative burden higher than expected.
Potential for learning or transfer
Although the pilot application was successful, until now no follow-up action has been taken due to the lack of transnational financial sources.
The new version of the centrope_tt voucher should follow the following principles: better marketing / less administration (less & shorter documentation, e-application system) / quick & smart system (shorter lifetime of one application-realization process / different types of vouchers (small & larger amounts).
The system itself is transferable. However, the feasibility depends on the committed business support intermediaries and the available financial sources for the implementation. The processes can also be applied to new or existing projects at national or regional level, helping to add value to existing schemes. The key element of the transfer process is the cooperative, dynamic nature of the programme. Stimulating connection between (small) SMEs and (big) R&D institutes, the scheme also introduces a change of mindset.
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