Evaluation of BSR Stars Innovation Express 2015 programme

Submitted by Alina Danieles… on 05 May 2018

Aimed at addressing the policymakers' demand for understanding the type of results that SMEs have from BSR Stars Innovation Express projects, as well as the role that cluster organizations play in catalyzing SME internationalization, this evaluation report provides an overview of activities and overall lessons learned about the concept, highlighting insights and recommendations for the future. The report was drawn up in December 2017, by Emily Wise - Research Fellow and Consultant Lund University and IEC AB, marking the end of a first five years of implementation of the Innovation Express programme. 

The evaluation offers several highlights and insights as well as recommendations for the future, among which: 

- BSR Stars Innovation Express concept is an effective approach for engaging SMEs in pragmatic international activities - Innovation Express projects act as seed investments – providing SMEs with new knowledge, inspiration and broader networks (in the short term), which contribute to new international research and innovation or commercial collaboration (in the longer-term).

- the concept is an efficient way to facilitate linkages and initiate transnational collaboration projects - the Innovation Express approach meets funding agencies’ policy objectives of SME internationalisation and interregional collaboration by providing clusters and their member companies with access to a critical mass of potential collaboration partners, legitimacy (and “proof of quality”) through the involvement of national/regional agencies, and strengthened international visibility (both within and outside the BSR) of countries’ specialized innovation hubs.

The report summarizes perspectives from SMEs and cluster organizations participating in the 27 transnational innovation projects – highlighting five key messages:

  1. Cluster organisations continue to be viewed as an effective instrument to support SME internationalisation.
  2. Several different internationalization models are pursued, some focusing on strengthening export and globalization, others on developing research collaboration or building transnational platforms between clusters.
  3. The most successful approaches combine aspects of several models, offering a tailored package of services to a targeted group of SMEs.
  4. Innovation Express projects deliver useful results for SMEs - providing new knowledge and inspiration and initiating relations with new partners. SMEs view this as a helpful "first step" that may lead to longer term commercial or innovation collaboration. 
  5. The Innovation Express concept is perceived as a valuable instrument that fills a gap in existing support to international collaboration. It is quick, simple and enables actual involvement of SMEs in international activities that are tailored to their needs. 

Please find the report available for a full reading here (or attached).

The BSR Stars programme is a flagship within Policy Area Innovation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (additional information available here ).

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