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IMP3rove: Fostering innovation efficiency in Europe

Today's increased market competition requires that companies have the capabilities to manage the process of innovation, from original idea to final product. Innovation management is not just a means in itself, but is about developing and organising endogenous capabilities within companies and translating them into competitive advantages and profits. The challenge for business is to continuously innovate and in this respect it is important to cultivate the right environment where innovation can be repeated. However, some argue that innovation cannot be managed and that the market should decide what type of innovation is needed.

It is interesting that the world's most pioneering companies are committed to innovation activity despite a recognition that many ideas fail for a variety of reasons. So, what motivates these companies? It is likely that the main motivation is the absolute conviction that even the least probable opportunity should be properly explored as it might lead to greater ones.

For small companies, which are often the most innovative, the challenge is two-fold. On the one hand, they must satisfy the demands of existing customers; on the other, they need to keep pushing the boundaries in the quest for new ideas and opportunities. Large corporations too have dilemmas related to innovation. In order to be successful, they concentrate on their best customers and their profits, trading in more sophisticated and expensive products and ignoring low-end product niches which are less profitable. It is these niches that small start-ups can exploit in order to take a share of the market from large companies. The recent success in internet phones is one such example.

Many SMEs and young innovative companies do not possess the entrepreneurial skills needed to exploit innovation successfully and survive in a competitive market. IMPĀ³rove, Europe INNOVA's innovation management project, is specifically aimed at supporting innovative companies in overcoming these problems.

IMP3rove aims to provide innovation facilitators with new and better tools to consult enterprises on innovation management issues. The project activities will support innovative enterprises, innovation intermediaries and financial as well as policy actors.

SMEs will have a clearer picture of their innovation management performance and improvement potential. This will enable benchmarking against competitors in the same sector across countries or across sectors within the same country. The results of this self-assessment will be used for marketing and fund raising purposes.

Innovation intermediaries will participate in developing state of the art innovation management tools. They will be provided with a set of innovation management consulting techniques and advice for SMEs and innovative start-ups.

Financial actors will have some tangible means for evaluating companies and facilitating 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 SMEs.

Innovation management involves reducing corporate barriers and connecting research and manufacturing departments, and also reaching outside the company for new ideas. This requires two things: trust and openness. Companies in Europe have for long been told about the elusive nature of innovation; through IMPĀ³rove we send the message that innovation can be managed.


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