Innovation support agencies, i.e. the regional and national agencies that design and/or implement innovation support programmes for SMEs are important intermediaries for SME innovation. Focus, design and delivery mechanism of innovation support programmes determine to a large extent the economic impact from the supported actions and the satisfaction of the beneficiaries with the support provided. The European Union has supported mutual policy learning and exchange of ‘good practices’ in different programmes, including for example the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the Competiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and INTERREG. However, the transfer of good practices in SME innovation support, the enhancement of existing and the establishment of new innovation support programmes for SME remains slow; and SMEs benefitting from support programmes still often remain dissatisfied with the services received.
The PRO-INNO Europe 'INNO-Partnering Forum' (IPF, 2009-2012) has made some significant contributions to formulating the requirements for a permanent learning mechanism for SME innovation support agencies : learning activities have to be based on clear methodologies and they have to be demand driven, launched at the moment agencies themselves recognise the need to revise programme formats. Furthermore peer learning activities need to benefit from a secretariat or an animation structure that assures horizontal flow of information among interested agencies. In a collaborative exercise the IPF has developed two methodologies in this respect: a quality management system implemented through a peer review system based on the EFQM methodology and a 'twinning+' methodology that combines elements of traditional peer reviews and twinning in small learning groups of interested agencies.
It is the objective of this action to make available to national and regional innovation agencies these two methodologies as elements of a permanent peer learning environment and to give incentives to the agencies to engage more frequently in peer learning activities.
For more information, please visit: