Project budget2 855 597 €
ERDF amount1 713 358 €
The majority of businesses in the 2 Seas area are SMEs. They employ a large proportion of the population and their growth is vital to develop the economy and boost employment. SMEs grow as they innovate and internationalise and they often request coaching and support. Innovation (process, product & service enhancement) and internationalisation (collaborations/tech-transfer) are closely linked but many SMEs lack awareness of how this can apply to their sector, regional context or in new markets. ISE's support packages are a value for money solution to help more than 500 SMEs address these challenges.
ISE aims to identify SMEs in need of creating extra value and to accelerate innovation through facilitating cross-border connections, collaborations & tech-transfer with other SMEs, knowledge institutes and experts. The project aims to deliver two main support trajectories: ‘introducing innovation’ (WP1) to a number of priority sectors and 'incubating & clustering innovation’ (WP2&3) among SMEs with growth potential from sectors highlighted in regional S3 strategies. Many partner regions are ‘innovation followers’. ISE will increase the number of SMEs innovating and taking innovations to new markets.
- Taster sessions and workshops to introduce innovation principles to a range of SMEs from priority sectors linked to RIS/S3 strategies
- Updated diagnostic tools to help SMEs develop concrete plans to innovate
- Intensive support through an innovation pathway events programme for SMEs with growth potential primarily (to no limit innovation possibilities) from the following sectors: mechatronics, new materials, agri-food, digital/creative
- Creation of cross-border clusters and a supporting web platform and connecting members to global innovation expertise and the international business community
Cross border approach
SMEs recognise the need to innovate and successfully compete globally but a triple-helix effort is required to help them and this needs to go beyond national business support services in order to maximise the impact on SMEs. ISE’s cross-border collaboration will combine and link the individual knowledge, experience and opportunities of each partner region to harness this capability and realise innovation potential among SMEs. The project’s framework of new techniques & activities will provide a unique opportunity for 2 Seas area companies to jointly adopt innovation techniques and grow their business.
ISE is an Interreg 2 Seas project which supports businesses from 5 regions (Kent, Hauts-de-France, East & West Flanders, and the SW of the Netherlands) with becoming more internationalised & innovative. There are 7 project partners (Kent County Council, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Aditec, VOKA East Flanders, VOKA West Flanders, POM & the Innovatiehuis).Together they are helping SMEs to enable them to grow their business & find international contacts.
Since the start of the project, some 944 SMEs have benefited from various events in their regions in the form of 31 Taster Sessions which introduced innovation methods to SMEs. These were followed by 8 Sector-Focused Workshops led by sector experts from the wider partner regions and were attended by 162 SMEs.
A series of cross-border events have also taken place bringing together businesses from the 4 countries from all ISE target sectors: Food & Drink, Mechatronics, Digital & Creative & New Materials.12 of these were part of the 'Innovation Pathway' Programme with 283 SMEs attending, making new connections & participating in bespoke activities with a focus on product pitches, networking & building contacts.
Businesses have also gained useful insights & feedback on the potential of their products & services to fit into different European markets. Feedback from events was very positive: "the event provided help with innovation and product development" and "I just wanted to say thank you again for such a wonderful few days, the organisation was perfect and the event was so inspiring. There will definitely be some business to be done following this event."
6 Major Innovation Events have taken place since June 2018 enabling ISE companies to find out about market trends and meet international contacts from their sector. Events included CEBIT (Hannover), JEC World (Paris), Hannover Messe, Tech Open Air (Berlin), Anuga (Dusseldorf) and Industry (Barcelona). Two more of these events will take place in 2020; Horecava (Amsterdam) and Tavola (Kortrijk).
ISE SMEs are continuing to benefit from 1-2-1 assessments to explore their export & innovation potential. This is thanks to the diagnostic tool developed by the ISE partners. 113 businesses across the ISE regions have benefited from this tool which has provided them with concrete recommendations about increasing their innovation and internationalisation potential.
ISE is still offering opportunities for SMEs to get involved in the project during the first half of 2020.