The objective is to identify cooperative R & D projects through targeted networking between companies and the university to increase R & D activities.
Experiences with regional SMEs show that, while there is a desire for innovation, there are only few resources available to further develop such projects.
The MoWiN Innovation Lab is aimed at SMEs in the field of mobility and should support joint development projects in Northern Hesse. It takes place 4 times a year. During a first part, SMEs from the region can present their own innovations in front of a consultant from the university who works together with SME. He gives feedback, analyzes it for possible weak points and sound advice from a technical, user and business-oriented perspective. After running a ½ - day workshop, target groups, benefits, market potential, business model archetype and technological maturity etc. are developed and sharpened. During a second part, the SMEs have the chance to present their idea in front of experts from business development, patent information center, technology transfer of the university and founding consultants from the network Promotion Nordhessen and the cluster MoWiN.net. The experts discuss relevant funding programs and utilization scenarios which are then developed by the cluster management.
The MoWiN Innovation Lab is funded by the Hessian Ministry (European Regional Development Fund). The core partners are Science Park Kassel GmbH and Mowin.Net e. V. as a regional network with about 120 members. The external panels with experts are always changing due to the topic of the Innovation Lab.
For human resources, there are at least 10 hours/week needed. The total amount of financial resources is 83,000€ whereas 50% is external funded and 50% is own funded.
Evidence of success
The MoWiN Innovation Lab aims at acceleration and increasing the number of R & D projects in Northern Hesse. Up to now, 4 Innovation Labs have been finally realized whereas 35 SMEs benefited from the services of the Innovation Lab and approximately 15 R&D projects have been generated. Especially the collaboration with the SME-consultant of the university was fruitful and the cooperation continues recently in terms of a funding program regarding the topic AI and data science with two SMEs.
We provide Innovation Labs where SMEs can present their in-house ideas to connect with additional partners or receive assistance in funding. A more workshop-oriented format providing insights about crucial elements and steps in the innovation process is as well needed as recently implemented.
Potential for learning or transfer
Recent findings from research and practice have shown that there are still missing links in innovation ecosystems, the linkage of SMEs with the available expertise at universities being one of them. The MoWiN Innovation Lab provides a platform that – in addition to the actual learning gained by the participating companies – contributes significantly to the development of well functioning innovation systems by strengthening the university – industry link.
The format is well suited to be adapted to other cities and regions as well.
It is considered as an extremely effective tool for triggering, supporting and enhancing university – industry collaboration by means of an intermediate organisation.
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