Collective and individual training in innovation: companies supported for one year by experts to develop an innovation strategy and/or new projects.
STRING focuses on food innovation ecosystems and aims especially to identify good practices in food innovation support. The NOVIAA programme proposed by ARIA Alsace offers Alsatian food companies a tool for developing an innovation strategy and innovative projects.
Many companies in the food industry are Very Small Businesses and SMEs often specialised in regional products. To stay in the market they must: innovate to deliver new and differentiated products; create sales methods and original marketing models; reduce manufacturing costs or add value to the entire production; face unbalanced competition due to the size of some market players.
Innovation, however, is complex and multifaceted: it is not simply the acquisition of methods or know-to-be, it is everything. For managers, this means having a vision of their future positioning and ways to implement – in other words, deploying an absolute development and innovation strategy and an adapted process.
The programme NOVIAA is a training programme, consisting of: a collective phase during which the participants will be able to acquire and share best practices for innovation in SMEs & an individual phase allowing the leader, based on a prepared road map, to deploy a new innovation process through a pilot project, while continuing to benefit from a methodological contribution. The pilot will also help internal teams to take ownership of the new mode of operation and to assess performance.

Resources needed

Total cost for an enterprise: 9 667€ - but thanks to co-financing from State and Region, ARIA Alsace sells it 5 800 € to member enterprises, and 6 400€ for non-members + 200€ entry fee.
5 part-time experts contracted by ARIA Alsace.
Dedicated time by ARIA staff to promote the programme.

Evidence of success

The programme is running for 6 years: each year, 10 to 15 companies participate; very good satisfaction 3.65 out 4; development of collaborative projects between the participants. In total: participation 45 companies, 71 projects, 14 new products.
Not only are new products launched but also the following topics are developed:
● Strategic training for new products or merchandising, Formalisation and structuring process, Marketing, Merchandising and HR development.

Difficulties encountered

The company managers must dedicate time to the process. Lack of managerial participation means the process will fail.
Sometimes, the experts have to convince managers to rethink their strategy before trying to implement concrete innovative projects.

Potential for learning or transfer

NOVIAA is very easy to transfer to other regions, as it only requires financial resources to contract the experts and not infrastructure.
The key to success lies in the expert team: they must know the food sector, be specialised in complementary topics (creativity, digitalisation, industry production processes, industry human resources management, …), be able to work together (using common templates for reporting, projects schedules, risk analysis, cost calculation, ...) and accept to be part of a team (although they are independent consultants), and have capacities to moderate workshops and training sessions in a creative and dynamic way.
The Food cluster must also have the capacity to convince its members that innovation is a long-term process. NOVIAA will not bring immediate effects, and the development of innovation in a product, for example, can reveal other needs (production process, company organisation, …).
Main institution
ARIA Alsace (Regional Association for Food Industries in Alsace)
Alsace, France
Start Date
January 2012
End Date


Pieter de Boer Please login to contact the author.