Cross-innovation voucher scheme to help SMEs purchase R&D services to support the development of innovative products and processes
During Central Europe Programme project FORT, TechnoCenter of University of Maribor led a nine-partner consortium from five countries to design cross-innovation voucher scheme helping SMEs from Central Europe Region purchase R&D services in order to support the development of innovative products and processes.
Innovation Open House events let SMEs and public research organisations apply their business/innovative ideas, which were evaluated based on predetermined criteria. After pre-assessment, top 5 presented their ideas at events and received personal consultancy from experts. Best idea put forward at each Innovation Open House event was awarded a voucher worth € 5.000 to help the winner realise their innovative idea in one of project’s other regions. Voucher was not awarded as grant, FORT project partners covered costs of services in the value of voucher. Voucher could be used for:
- development of new product, prototype,
- testing quality control and environmental comparability,
- business plan development for innovative product,
- improvement analysis of idea, product, business model,
- development of feasibility studies, studies for problem solving,
- product/service testing,
- study visit,
- personal coaching, mentoring, intensive coaching,
- analysis of technology transfer potential.
Vouchers could not be used for standard training courses, software purchase, advertising materials, sales or legal services, material purchase, auditing or accounting.
In Slovenia approx. € 20.000 was invested for the implementation of the voucher process including warding two-cross innovation vouchers.
Evidence of success
Two cross-innovation vouchers were awarded in Slovenia. In total twelve Innovation Open House events were organized by FORT partners with almost 700 participants. The winners built twelve cooperations across Central Europe and invested € 60.000 to stimulate the transnational exchange and cross-border support. FORT provided
help for the development of breakthrough innovations like controlled release fertilizer,
mobile musical therapy, housing solution, breast milk yoghurt, etc.
Potential for learning or transfer
An online database of the ideas presented at these Innovation Open House events helped connect SMEs and public research organisations, bringing together parties who were seeking new research partners and new market opportunities.
Expert jury pre-assessed innovative ideas based on predetermined criteria, e.g. inovativeness of the idea, possibility of turning the idea into practice, level of development of the idea, level of knowledge and experience put into the development of the idea, etc.
Practice is transferable in terms of organisational model / implementation process, specific tools and methodology for the involvement of the targeted stakeholders.
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