ICT Innovation Vouchers is a grant issued by Murcia’s INFO (regional development agency) to support the uptake of ICTs in Small-to-Medium Sized Enterprises.
Building on the past successes of Murcia Region’s pilot programme – PYME +, ICT Innovation Vouchers addresses the lack of innovation experience and culture in regional SMEs by enabling them to purchase with a voucher innovative ICT services from pre-approved and vetted service providers. In addition to supporting ICT innovation in regional SMEs, ICT Innovation Vouchers are equally of use to service providers by affording them an opportunity to maintain clients and establish new client relationships by creating ‘durable links’.
The ICT Innovation Voucher implemented by the region of Murcia’s development agency (INFO) follows six stages of implementation: (1) SMEs make a simple application for an ICT service; (2) the development agency approves a grant (voucher) for the provision of an ICT service by a pre-approved provider; (3) the approved service is provided; (4) the SME pays for the service with the voucher it has received from the development agency; (5) the service provider after reception of the voucher has it justified by the development agency; and (6) the economic value is transferred from the voucher into revenue for the service provider.
The ICT innovation voucher has been used to implement Big Data Planning and projects on the Internet of Things and Cybersecurity.
14 million EUR (co-financed by ERDFs) for Innovation Vouchers. Note that this budget was not exclusively for ICT Innovation Vouchers but the region’s innovation vouchers (ICT, Technological and Nontechnological Innovation Vouchers, and the Europa Voucher).
Evidence of success
The ICT Innovation Voucher is of use to its beneficiaries and stakeholders (regional SMEs and Service Providers) in removing /reducing bureaucracy for them.
In particular, during 2017-2018, the Innovation Voucher assisted 51 regional beneficiaries to access European funded projects advancing company innovation.
For the vouchers provided (each worth 6,000 EUR) to the 51 companies, 2.7 million EUR of European investment was generated.
To ensure efficient delivery of the voucher scheme and maintain SME confidence in the scheme, an internal process for approving service providers is critical. In equal measure to ensure confidence in maintained in the scheme and that the scheme does not create undue financial burden for service.
Potential for learning or transfer
Primarily, the ICT Voucher’s potential for learning and transfer lies in the fact that it is replicable. Following successful implementation, a project for the creation of an EU Label for Innovation Vouchers has begun .
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