Tampere Region Innovation Voucher is a market-driven digitalized platform for companies to apply for support to growth, innovation and internationalization.
Tampere Region Innovation Voucher is directed to companies in the ERDF program area, filling the S3 and other requirements. The goal is to create new ways of support to enterprises, introducing an open and agile way to offer business services and to develop a customer-oriented and understandable process. The digital platform enables a smooth process with a minimum human resource. For companies the freedom to choose the service provider, without any pre-selection by authorities, is a motivating factor. The voucher offers targeted support for growth, innovation and internationalization. Service providers productize their services (product card, service catalogue), and digital platform offers them a market-based channel to attract new customers and partners. The related grant is paid directly to the service providers when the voucher user acknowledges the service as “done” and gives feedback about the service, service provider and possible results. In some test cases, the service provider has been outside Finland. The voucher is a flexible tool, which can be integrated to regional, national and in the future also to interregional business ecosystems. Based on the platform, a cooperative process is created, including voucher users (startups, micro sized enterprises, SMEs), service providers (companies, universities, RTOs) and organizations responsible for arranging public business services, and regional organizations responsible for growth and liveliness of the region.
The budget is 1 466 000€, of which 750 000€ is granted as vouchers (max 5 000€). Other costs include i.e. personnel, services bought and digital platform development. Human resources vary btw 1-3 persons during the project. Funding: 60% ERDF (Council of Tampere region), 40% Tampere City.
Evidence of success
The voucher has boosted the region’s business life. By end of 2017, 166 services have been carried out, 111 businesses have ventured to exports or have expanded to new market areas, and the turnover of 52 companies has increased. In addition, 20 new jobs have been created. User experiences are collected and impact in service market development studied. Results have raised the interest of other regions in Finland. Companies’ threshold for using growth and innovation services is lowered.
The digital platform designed and built in the pilot project does not yet technically allow for the international service providers to be in the system on a larger scale. It is important to continue the development work jointly with regional and interregional stakeholders.
Potential for learning or transfer
Vouchers are used in many countries, but how it is done in Tampere is a novel perspective. The scalability of voucher process is high, due to digital platform and minimum manual resources needed. It is a flexible tool, which can always be integrated to regional business ecosystem. It can be used e.g. for R&D activities, exploring market opportunities, protecting and managing IPR, prototyping and industrial demonstrations, product trials, industrialization and commercialization. Easiness, flexibility, openness, market-orientation and fast process fit to the needs of growth companies. Transferring voucher to another region can be done quite easily. Resources are mainly needed for creating or modifying the digital platform, funding process itself is more or less automated.
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