TII’s new-style annual meeting – shorter, more interactive, more intimate – took place on 19 April in Brussels at the Beford Hotel & Congress Centre. Inaugurated last year in Vaasa, the TII Innovation Dialogue focuses on a single theme and discusses it from all different angles. Since innovation has been the leitmotiv of TII for the past 30 years – and we chose Brussels as a venue – we thought it fitting this year to take a closer look at the performance of the most famous innovation support programme of all – Horizon 2020 – as well as other types of open innovation initiatives, involving both public and private sector support.
For this purpose, we invited a panel of representatives from the European Commission – Jasper Hemmes, SME Instrument Coaching Manager, Ramona Samson, Deputy Head of Unit (SMEs, Financial Instruments and State Aid), DG Research and Innovation and Elena Kostadinova, Intellectual Property and Fight Against Counterfeiting Unit, DG GROW – to tell us how well Horizon 2020 and other initiatives are doing to offer value to their beneficiaries and to bring more innovations to market in Europe.
This was followed by three testimonials from innovation support practitioners from different walks of life who shared their practical experience of recent innovation support programmes, including Morten Løfsnæs (Nova Corporate, Norway) on his experience as an SME Instrument coach and financial adviser to SMEs, Andy Zynga (formerly NineSigma and currently Maastricht School of Management) on his experience of running publicly fundeded open innovation programmes for SMEs and Sara Medina (SPI) on her experience of managing a soft landing programme for European SMEs in China.
Following this series of short interventions, the discussion was opened up to the audience to find out their opinion of whether today’s innovation support programmes are giving true value to their beneficiaries – in other words, how well are we really doing, what has improved and where and how can we do better?
The afternoon session consisted of a participative road mapping exercise, run by long-time TII member and two-times President of the association, Gordon Ollivere, to identify, quantify and increase the benefits gained by end users from EU innovation programmes. In a first phase, the participants considered challenges and drivers that could affect future innovation support instruments and then populated a wall chart with post-it notes to record their opinions and suggestions in terms of priority application areas and stakeholders’ needs in the immediate, medium and long-term.
The results of the road mapping exercise will feed into a report to be circulated among all participants and shared with the European Commission.