The project ACCESS (ACCelerating regional competitivenESS and sector-based excellence through innovation management tools and techniques) is implemented by 11 partners from 8 Central European countries that have a common interest in improving their innovation policy. The project focus on two specific facets: Which are the tools and techniques of regional innovation management that might be useful to improve innovation capacities? Which potentials might be hidden in a sector-based focus for innovation management?
To fully exploit the benefits of the new approach, the partners agree that transnational co-operation is vital for addressing these facets since this is the way to:
- avoid duplications,
- come back to existing comparable competences,
- enhance the quality level of exchange and transfer of experience and good practice, as well as
- foster joint developments that contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Agenda’s objectives.
The partners first proceed with a knowledge audit that aims at investigating and understanding regional innovation capabilities in specific sectors. Then, they analyse and integrate the knowledge generated, upon which they will create a knowledge base of sector-based innovation. The partners will share knowledge about innovation management tools and techniques, most notably through their organization and participation in a specific “Transnational Innovation Management Training”.
The specific objective of the ACCESS project is the acceleration of regional competitiveness and sector-based excellence through innovation management tools and techniques that are in line with the area of intervention P1.2 of the CENTRAL Europe programme.
This main goal will be achieved by a series of activities that can be summarized alongside the following main priorities:
- fostering the understanding of sector-based innovation : the partners will carry out a sector-related knowledge audit and integration that will lead to the elaboration of common study of innovation in the selected sectors food industry, biotechnology and mechatronics and to the benchmarking of good practices in terms of sector-based innovation management or application-oriented collaborations.
- enabling direct access to knowledge on innovation management tools and techniques : the partners will develop the curricula of a transnational training on innovation management and organise the trainings. The ACCESS project will contribute to the achievement of all three overall goals of the CENTRAL programme by considering the strong interrelation and synergies among them: all aspects will be touched by mobilising regional growth potentials and improving the regional innovation systems through adequate sector-based innovation management tools and techniques. The training courses will be documented and published in a training manual. This document will serve as the fundament of the e-training that will be offered on the interactive platform to be available on the project’s Website.
- elaborating and testing a transnational methodical tool for innovation strategy development and implementation : this “Pilot ACCESS” is a tool that enables peer review teams to evaluate regional potentials in a specific sector and elaborate strategic implementation plans. In the frame of a pilot application, the tool will be also tested within the participating regions and transferred to further regions and/or sectors as well as the outcomes will be implemented in 3 pilot regions (Slovenia, Central Hungary, Upper Silesia). This will lead to the establishment of sectoral networks fostering interactions among actors within and between the regions.
- WP1: Project management and coordination (WP leader: STRIA)
WP1 will ensure a proper implementation of the project within the planned time and budget frames, whereby the LP as WP leader has the highest responsibility. He is in regular touch with the programme authorities and with the partners, ensures the appropriate fulfilment of the project aims within time schedule and budget constraints, elaborates templates, supportive documents, prepares and submits progress and financial reports, monitors expenses and distributes the ERDF finances to the partners.
- WP2: Communication, knowledge management and dissemination (WP leader: Pomurje Technology Park)
As part of the main project activities communication and publicity accompany the whole project lifecycle. Regular and open communication at all stages and with all stakeholders either virtually, via phone, e-mail or meetings is essential to monitor project progress, to identify problems and solutions and disseminate results.
The main target groups to involve are the partners themselves as well as their own networks, programme authorities, complementary projects and initiatives, policy- and decision-makers, intermediary bodies, business actors, research and educational institutions, financial units, etc. A central point for the internal as well as external communication will be the project website.
- WP3: Sector-related knowledge integration (WP leader: Theodore Puskas Foundation)
Access to knowledge in general and to innovation in particular is often very difficult, especially for SMEs and actors from less developed regions, thus the partners will strive to generate a common knowledge that is easy to understand and access not only by the partners but also by a broader public.
The first step towards realisation is the elaboration of an audit methodology. This includes the preparation of a condition list and a criteria catalogue. Afterwards, the knowledge audit will be conducted whereby every partner region examines available data and information on sector-related innovation in the form of a study. The partners have already identified the sectors of common interest they want to suss out: food industry, biotechnology and mechatronics.
- WP4: Transnational Innovation Management Training (WP leader: CATT Innovation Management)
Within WP4 innovation management techniques will be identified and supportive tools designed. They will be then educated to assigned employees of the partner institutions (who will conduct the sector-related regional peer reviews in the framework of the pilot applications) during the transnational Innovation Management Training (hereafter: IMT) that will ensure the qualification of the peers both on innovation management issues and sector-related matters.
The training curriculum will be based on a needs analysis and competence scroll and in this sense it will be tailored to the needs of the selected participants of the trainings, but it will also include elements that allow the transfer of the curricula as good practice to other regions and to offer the training courses in the frame of the section “e-training”.
The tailoring of the training courses will be supported by an IMT guideline that contains the tools and techniques that are necessary for sector-based innovation management. The training aims at delivering economic and managerial skills necessary to understand and govern processes of technological innovation and market globalisation.
- WP5: Transnational IMT Service Meets Regional Sectoral Needs (WP leader: CNA Regional Association of Emilia Romagna)
The partners will be divided into 3 sector groups. Every partner region will host a peer review for testing the elaborated transnational methodical tool. On the basis of this peer review, the peers together with the hosting partner institution elaborate a strategic implementation plan (including action plans, policy recommendations etc.) for the hosting region.
The sector-based strategic implementation plans will create the opportunity for regulators and sector representatives to collaboratively remove factors that constrain performance improvement and develop approaches and tools that encourage continual performance improvement within the sector. As a concrete result, the involved target groups will have the following benefits:
- SMEs will have a clearer picture of their innovation management performance and improvement potential,
- innovation intermediaries will be provided with a set of innovation management techniques and tools and advice for SMEs and innovative start-ups,
- research units will have enhanced potentials to market their knowledge and co-operate with business actors,
- financial actors will receive information about innovative potentials that can facilitate the access to finance,
- policy-makers will obtain first hand insights both on key success factors for innovation management and on the constraints to innovation faced by various actors.
After the peer reviews, the partners will start to offer the service also for other sectors and regions. The created internal groups will go on working together and transfer the methodology.