MEETings for INnovation Growth in SMEs: Enhancing collaboration with innovative start-ups


MEET.IN.G (MEETings for INnovation Growth in SMEs: Enhancing collaboration with innovative start-ups) is the H2020-INNOSUP-2018-2019-05 (Peer learning of innovation agencies); INNOSUP-05-2018-2020 project funded by the Horizon 2020 Program Framework, which is aimed at jointly addressing the challenges of supporting innovation, i.e. promoting the adoption of the practice of Open Innovation (OI) of SMEs in order to strengthen cooperation between SMEs and innovative start-ups.

Project description

Open Innovation (OI) is defined as a “paradigm that assumes that companies can and should use external ideas, as well as internal ideas and internal and external pathways to the market, as companies seek to advance their technology”. Innovative start-ups are one of the most important players in the European innovation ecosystem, as well as one of the most powerful sources of technology and business innovation for all traditional companies.

In the last 15 years, particularly larger companies have begun to implement innovation initiatives that rely on the knowledge of innovative start-ups to improve their products, innovate their processes and transform their business models. The range of OI practices has gradually expanded, understanding initiatives with different effort requirements in terms of required resources (Corporate Venture Capital, Innovation Lab, collaboration with OI service providers, Call for Ideas and Hackathon etc.)

For SMEs, the innovation process is limited financial resources, lack of internal competences, insufficient understanding of the latest technologies, lack of time for managers and employees to conduct research activities. For these reasons, OI seems to be a suitable driver of innovation for all SMEs to overcome their dimensional boundaries. Thanks to collaboration with start-ups, SMEs can bring in external, already developed technologies to their companies, adapting them to their business models and improving their ability to adapt to rapidly changing competitive environment.

The MEET.IN.G project wants to identify and design new programs aimed at supporting the adoption of OI practices by SMEs, strengthening the collaboration between SMEs and innovative start-ups.

In particular, the project will try to understand if and how OI tools used with increasing frequency and effectiveness by large companies to get closer to the start-up world (e.g. collaborations with incubators and accelerators, running of call for ideas, B2B meetings) could be usefully implemented also by SMEs, or if other kinds of initiatives, still to be designed, could be more appropriate for these businesses.

Project objective

The objective of the MEET.IN.G project is to jointly address the challenges of supporting innovation, i.e. to promote the adoption of OI practices of SMEs in order to enhance the collaboration between SMEs and innovative start-ups.

This synergy would create value for both parties involved. On the one hand, European SMEs, especially those of traditional sectors, could innovate their business, not only in terms of new products or processes, but also in terms of business model transformation. On the other hand, start-ups could gain preferential access to the market. The project will seek to identify the role that European innovation agencies could play in facilitating the adoption of OI practices by smaller companies.

The specific project objectives are:

  • To identify good practices regarding the adoption of OI tools by SMEs in Europe and beyond the EU.
    The research will be conducted with a dual purpose:
    • to find programmes and initiatives designed by innovation agencies and other public entities to leverage the innovative ecosystem of start-ups to foster innovation in SMEs;
    • to seek Open Innovation initiatives implemented directly by individual SMEs to work with innovative start-ups;
  • To design new innovation support initiatives and services that can promote SME’s collaboration with innovative start-ups, all with the aim of innovating their business;
  • To increase the capacity of all European innovation agencies to provide effective innovation support services to assist SMEs in using OI practices.
  • To strengthen the European network of all project partners, laying the foundations for future cooperation and other opportunities for peer learning activities.

Project partners will be involved in peer-learning activities, using the Twinning+ methodology. Through joint workshops and desk researches, existing programmes consistent with the project challenge will be peer-reviewed. On the basis of good practices and strength points derived from this analysis, project partners will try to identify improvements and new tools, testing their own hypotheses with pilot initiatives whenever possible. The result of the group activities will be a Design Option Paper (DPO), a document containing recommendations about the most suitable actions to be implemented by innovation agencies for designing effective SME innovation support programmes.

Project partners

1. Fondazione di partecipazione per l'innovazione e lo sviluppo imprenditoriale (Fondazione ISI); Italy
2. Toulon var technologies (TVT Innovation); France
3. Croatian Agency for SMEs, Innovations and Investments (HAMAG-BICRO); Croatia

Project value

• Overall project budget is a lump sum of: EUR 50,000.00, of which EUR 15,000.00 is available to HAMAG-BICRO

Project duration: 12 months (01.07.2020 – 30.06.2021)