This collection of case examples of IMP³rove innovation management support services for SMEs to gain competitive advantage illustrates the needs of key stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem. The case examples show how a wide variety of effective support services utilising the IMP³rove offerings address these needs.

Over the past years, knowledge about innovation management and its impact on competitiveness and future sustainable growth has increased. However, SMEs still lack awareness of the benefits of a strong innovation management capacity. Business advisors and intermediaries are therefore in need of effective approaches and tools to support SMEs in developing innovation management capabilities.

To design effective innovation policies and investment strategies, policy makers and financial actors require increased transparency on SMEs’ innovation management performance and development potential. Lastly, academic institutions need to review their curriculum and teaching approaches to instill innovation management knowledge and skills in the future work force e.g. of SMEs.

Figure 1 Stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem and their specific needs

The case example collection highlights how the stakeholders’ needs presented in Figure 1 can be addressed effectively and the impact that has so far been achieved. In a South-eastern country, national innovation management benchmarking data from SMEs enriched the national annual innovation report and an innovation award presented by the nation’s president.

In the UK, effective regional development builds on benchmarking of high-growth SMEs and on the innovation management training offered to SME managers, intermediaries and business advisors.

In another large country, the association for export oriented companies initiated a national innovation award which enabled hundreds of enterprises within two years to benchmark and improve their innovation management performance. Across Europe a network of several hundred business advisors used the opportunities for online coaching to improve their innovation management support services and delivery.

Finalists of the International IMP³rove Award received feedback and coaching on how to further improve their competitiveness by building on better innovation management capabilities. Several academic institutions have incorporated practical experience in innovation management benchmarking in their Master’s programmes: “IMP³rove for Students” brings together SMEs with academic institutions, in particular with students as future interns or even employees.

Given that the IMP³rove Database is the largest global database on innovation management within SMEs, several public institutions make use of the insights that research based on the database generates. In one case, a national development agency focused their support services on the ICT sector.

These examples highlight how different innovation ecosystem stakeholders benefit from the innovation management support services offered by IMP³rove – European Innovation Management Academy.

Figure 2 IMP³rove service portfolio

This IMP³rove service portfolio helps to develop a common language in innovation management, reducing transaction costs within the innovation ecosystem and strengthening inter-linkages between the various stakeholder groups. The case examples illustrate the richness and versatility of IMP³rove innovation management support services. They feature different challenges involved in generating economic development impact from improved innovation management capabilities. An overview of IMP³rove services deployed by the various stakeholder groups demonstrates the breadth of the support offered. IMP³rove services have been implemented either as a stand-alone service or by combining the benefits of several IMP³rove services. Furthermore, the case examples show how multiple stakeholder groups of the innovation ecosystem can benefit from implementing IMP³rove services.

Themes of selected case examples

The selected case examples cover different themes and illustrate the versatility of the IMP³rove support services. The themes include:

  • Collaboration with Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) partners in different activities
  • Effective regional development
  • Mobilising SMEs with a national Innovation Award and creating awareness for innovation management as key for success
  • Coaching for better innovation management performance: web-based coaching for EEN-members in the EU
  • Developing a better understanding of an enterprise’s innovation management capacities: Coaching managers on interpreting the IMP³rove Benchmarking Report
  • “IMP³rove for Students”: engaging academia in the IMP³rove-powered innovation ecosystem
  • Research on demand based on firm-level data on innovation management to support innovation policy development and implementation
  • Development of a targeted high-growth industry sector on a national level: technical support to a public agency outside of Europe

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About IMP³rove Academy

The IMP³rove – European Innovation Management Academy, non-profit ( offers innovation management support services to enterprises, consultants and intermediaries. It also provides financial actors, policy makers and academia with consulting support and technical assistance related to innovation and innovation management. The services include innovation management benchmarking for enterprises, training and certification in innovation management, research on innovation management issues and promotion of best practices in innovation management. With its global network, the IMP³rove Academy has set the standard for innovation management assessment. The IMP³rove- European Innovation Management Academy emerged from the European Commission’s flagship programme “IMP³rove”. It was supported by the European Commission’s Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and receives continued support by Horizon2020.