Luisa-Marie Fritzsch

RAPPORT: Knowledge For Business Innovation in SMEs

About the RAPPORT Project:

SMEs’ strengths lie in their agility, imagination and customer interaction. However capitalizing on these strengths requires focused policy action to overcome the significant barriers they face either from inside or from outside. To be effective, these policies should be able to reach a large proportion of  SMEs and tailor their actions to the various types of SMEs and their particular needs. The RAPPORT project aspires to advance this cause.

The project focuses on the following objectives:

  • To develop a reference guide of good practices including benchmarks for strengthening the knowledge exchange and knowledge transfer between research organizations and various kinds of SMEs; under the term good practices, the reference guide will refer to the specific services offered and the deployed programmes as well as the relevant policies
  • To develop a blueprint paper on new emerging forms of SMEs support for research backed by large corporations in a context where open innovation and public-private partnerships have increasingly gained importance; the paper will include benchmarks for private initiatives and public private partnerships of different kinds to support research activities within small businesses in different industries (e.g. consumer goods, IT, pharmaceuticals)
  • To initiate the engagement of policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders (see Table 16) into a dialogue and ensure the ‘translation’ of the reference guide and the blueprint paper into a roadmap for embedding the more suitable practices and policies into the European Research Area and the policy making at both regional and national levels

RAPPORT takes the current thinking and practice in the area of research support for the benefit of SMEs to a more advanced level in three different ways:

  1. Widen the horizon of existing studies and literature in the field by addressing knowledge and technology transfer practices that have proved very successful but have been largely neglected by the research and academic community
  2. Enrich the analytical thinking by developing new methodological approaches that can produce a more ‘ real’ understanding of the running schemes as well as a more sophisticated measurement of their actual impact
  3. Open up new perspectives for different groups of practitioners in the field of SMEs support (policy-makers, intermediaries’ managers etc.) which can give them the chance to improve the course of their actions and increase their impact

The project considers not only the engagement of SMEs into the research process but also enabling SMEs to access developed knowledge and competencies of the research community. In addition to the science-push programmes, it looks into the demand-pull initiatives where the focal SME drives the process. The work puts a strong emphasis on the SMEs of lower absorptive capacity and how to open up their horizons to external research capabilities. Our hypothesis is that if Europe manages to upgrade a significant part of those SMEs, the economic and social benefits will be enormous.

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