ANI and NESTA - a British foundation for the promotion of innovation, published the report entitled “Enhancing the soft power of Innovation agencies: the role of services, competencies and skills”, which analyzes and compares the training services, non-financial support and internal expertise of 24 public innovation agencies in Europe. This document stems from the efforts of the European “SoftPower” task-force, led by ANI in cooperation with NESTA.
Within the scope of this work, a large-scale collection of information was performed at the 24 agencies under analysis - namely in Portugal, France, Finland, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Serbia, Norway, Israel, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Hungary, Holland, Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Sweden. The conclusions show that a majority of the agencies have been progressively focusing on supporting customized R&I which is based on and adapted to the particular needs of the companies. Agencies recognize the substantial importance of integrating non-financial support services such as mentoring, innovation management support, matchmaking and training into their financial instruments.
Some agencies, namely those operating in Nordic countries, have already transitioned or are in the process of transitioning to this new approach to R&I public support. However, certain countries have revealed difficulties in performing this transition, such as having to depend on funds with financial rules centered on the development of projects instead of on their promoters' growth, as is currently happening with the European Structural Funds.
The actions centered on the innovation promoters' needs will turn out to be particularly relevant in connection with the next Horizonte Europa framework program with the creation of the EIC – the European Innovation Council.
The report also concludes that this current trend of supporting innovation will not demand that innovation agencies restructure their operations and services. These changes may undergo differentiated support in the long term by segments, or even in an individualized manner, in companies with greater potential for growth.