Program focused on policy objectives of raising innovation activity in the region through focused support delivered by team of expert Innovation Specialists.
Welsh Government SMART Innovation instruments provide support to commercialise new products, processes & services. Supported by ERDF, administered by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).
Aligned with objectives of Manumix, an earlier evaluation of the policy mix & innovation instruments, identified gaps in addressing below average regional innovation activity rates. Delivered by a team of Innovation Specialists, Research Development Managers, Manufacturing & Design Specialists, Commercialisation Managers & Intellectual Property Specialists with an extensive knowledge gained in the private sector.
Services are:
Impartial innovation advice and diagnostic
Intellectual Property advice
Specialist Manufacturing & Design consultancy
Facilitation of Technical Collaborations, including Technology Transfer activities between businesses and research institutions
Support commercialisation, licensing and Open Innovation opportunities
Support to access appropriate funding sources and advice to develop funding applications e.g. SMARTCymru, Innovate UK and EU Horizon202
The support of Innovation Specialists is complemented by other integrated programmes that provide funding -: SMARTCymru, SMART Partnership, Smart Expertise, Open Innovation feasibility support and Knowledge Transfer Partnership
This initiative increases the innovation capability of Welsh businesses by assisting them to invest in sustainable innovation and bring their new solutions and ideas closer to market

Resources needed

22 professionals are members of the network. They were recruited by Welsh Government according to the principle of merit on the basis of fair and open competition as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. The total amount of funds of this initiative are 21.11m Euro.

Evidence of success

The Innovation Specialists have provided help from the beginning of the initiative to more than 165 enterprises in areas like general innovation, intellectual property rights, innovation management, new products/services commercialization, etc. The number of technical enquires supported have reached to 1,949. The number of companies receiving specialist advice that began a new product or process has reached 38. The initiative has also contributed to the registration of 13 patents for products.

Difficulties encountered

The challenges encountered recruiting suitably qualified and experienced specialists who can provide a total geographic cover across the region. working with funding bodies to ensure instruments revised objectives are achievable with target audience. Policy objective fit with wider regional policy

Potential for learning or transfer

Through previous evaluation and monitoring, the initiative has great potential for learning. It shows importance of professional support to facilitate businesses bringing innovation closer to market. It provides impartial expert advice to businesses seeking to undertake Innovation, removing barriers and ensuring that universities, public and private sectors work together. It opens up wider opportunities for businesses an academia to engage, through the provision of advice and the utilisation of appropriate funding from other programmes (SMARTCymru, Horizon 2020, etc.)
Of interest to European regions, because they can develop a network of experts in different fields who collaborate with enterprises. Allowing the transference of knowledge & expertise among professionals and businesses, as well as, among businesses.
The transference of knowledge and technology to the enterprises & bringing innovation closer to the market, are 2 mains challenges of European enterprises.
Main institution
Welsh Government
West Wales and The Valleys, United Kingdom
Start Date
February 2015
End Date


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Good Practices being followed by

Iñaki Ganzarain

Basque Innovation Agency, Innobasque

Mihai Botea

3rd District of Bucharest