Voucher for innovation intends to promote and favour the transfer of technology and know-how from the research system to SMEs.
To sustain development and competitiveness of enterprises, the Chamber of Commerce of Maremma and Tirreno (CCICA) has set up a strategic program on research, innovation and development for entrepreneurs and aspiring people, to implement innovative ideas to be translated into entrepreneurship development. In this framework CCICA has designed and implemented in cooperation with the University of Pisa the Voucher for innovation, a competition notice to enhance the research activity aimed at the growth and competitiveness of the area. This practice consists in selecting the most innovative ideas presented by SMEs and matching them with a university’s researcher who will contribute to the project’s development. Entrepreneurs' and researchers' partnership guarantees the sustainability of projects.
Moreover, and based on previous positive results, a cross-border approach has been developed for economic sectors impacting carbon emissions directly (sustainable tourism, blue & green biotechnologies, renewable energies) with MARITTIMOTECH project, launched in January 2017. The Voucher for innovation also contributes to a change in attitudes amongst entrepreneurs and citizens. Their engagement on innovative projects and processes in cooperation with researchers encourages more sustainable choices.
The network created to develop and implement this program is composed of universities and research centres, companies, credit institutions and local and regional authorities.
Voucher for innovation has granted 106000€ to SMEs trhough two calls, first call 36000€ and the second 70000€. Nevertheless, the involvement of the staff from CCICA and University of Pise is not taken into account. Therefore the financial ressources needed to run this good practice are higher
Evidence of success
Economic: innovative solutions with a market value, which bring new economic opportunities for SMEs and strengthen local competitiveness.
Educational: reinforce know-how and match research activity to market needs.
Environment: development and enhancement of environmental sustainable products and processes.
Change in behaviour: spread and encourage more sustainable choices for entrepreneurs, aspiring people and SMEs which leave them with possibilities to invest in low-carbon innovations.
There are two main challenges:
- the distance between universities' and enterprises’ worlds
- the researchers’ identification and his/her involvement in the innovative projects’ development.
Potential for learning or transfer
The vouchers can be developed easily in other regions if all relevant stakeholders are involved: companies, universities, research centres, public institutions and citizens. Dialogue and information are key. It is essential to sensitize the actors about the importance of cooperation and to involve them on the planning and the realisation of the innovation process. Organisations representing the companies’ interests, such as Chambers of Commerce, have to strengthen their role as facilitators between socio-economic and academic systems.
Moreover, the open innovation model, at the base of the Voucher for innovation practice is based on the triple/quadruple helix model. Yet, each EU Member State has developed different models of technology transfer and collaboration between companies and research centres; but they never deviate from the triple and quadruple helix vision. Therefore, there is simply the need to adapt the voucher practices to specific features of each nation.