Transnational 2InS Net Organization and Operations Regulation

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1 Transnational 2InS Net Organization and Operations Regulation Action 3.3a "Design- development of the Management/Operations Tools of the Innovation and Internationalization Clusters (2InS Clusters) and of the Transnational 2InS-Net -Elaboration of their Master Plan " 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 1

2 Table of Contents 1. Introduction Organization Resources...4 Human Resources...4 Infrastructure Organization Overview Regulation Procedures Guidelines...8 Case Handling...8 Best Practice Dissemination InS Cooperation...12 Innovation Support...14 Internationalization Support InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 2

3 1. Introduction This is the second part of 3.3.A deliverable. Part 1 dealt with Management and Code of ethics, while here we gives a practical set of methods for operating the network of 2InS clusters. The report is organized in two sections, section 1 (organization) describes the structure of the 2INs network while section 2 (regulation) sets forth a number of procedures with instructions to follow for proving our service: support to SMEs towards Innovation and Internationalization. At a top level, the overall system is viewed at four levels: At level 0, we can see the different point of view towards the 2INs system: Organization, i.e. the structure, the resources, the interfaces and their relationships, which is presented in section 1 of the present report. Regulation, i.e. the procedures for running the system which will be analysed in section 2 of this report. Master Plan, i.e. a plan from implementation of the structure and Code of Ethics, a set with rules of conduct to avoid conflicts and redundancies. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 3

4 2. Organization The network is structured as a set of closely cooperating clusters, each cluster having facilitator nodes and supported SMEs. The network, the facilitators and the SMEs are all following the guidelines included in this operations & regulations plan Resources The 2INs clusters have resources allocated towards support of SMEs. The following types of resources are identified: Human Resources Human resources are essential as most of the provided services towards SMEs involve consulting. The staff in the facilitator nodes must have the following competencies: Business Development Innovation Assessment Financial management 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 4

5 Accounting Support Legal Support Marketing Support Promotion Support Networking & PR There is also the need for at least one member of staff who will be responsible for managing cooperation between cluster members and with the other clusters in the network. This person should be directly appointed by the management of each regional entity to act as a management representative in 2INs meetings and coordination activities. Infrastructure The infrastructure required for coordination involves mainly IT infrastructure. At minimum, a plain internet connection should be enough, some more specific needs include: A web portal for the entire 2INs network which would contain information about the network and links to clusters, facilitators and specialized services A VoIP infrastructure connecting all entities, offering zero cost phone calls, virtual conferencing etc. A video-enabled conferencing service could further enhance cooperation and would make it more straightforward to provide services to remotely located SMEs. A one-stop-shop infrastructure where SMEs can go and get appropriately forwarded either automatically or via trained personell An on-line library with information about the clusters, the members, best practices, examples, regulations etc 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 5

6 2.2. Organization Overview The network of clusters is organized as shown: There are regional and thematic clusters. Each cluster has a number of actors facilitating internationalization and innovation. Such actors may be academic institutes, research centers, science and innovation parks, incubators, investment banks, trade associations, regional authorities etc. Each facilitator appoints a representative who reports and coordinates with the top management from each cluster that act as an informal board for the entire 2InS network. Each cluster and even each facilitator within each cluster- is linked to a number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are the supported members of the cluster. Such SMEs own innovative products and aim to reach the international markets with the aid of the cluster network. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 6

7 3. Regulation The regulation is provided in the form of a hierarchy of procedures, guidelines and tools/forms. It is not the purpose of this report to create each detailed form but we will set forth the procedures and we will outline which guidelines are used for describing activities of the network Procedures There are five main procedures that need to be in operation for the 2INs cluster to function properly. These are: Case Handling, describing the overall approach of receiving and processing a support request by an SME. Best Practice Dissemination, describing how good practices are identified, assessed and made known to other members of the network. 2InS Cooperation, setting guidelines for cooperation in the network. Innovation Support, including all activities for discovering, promoting and helping innovative ideas become reality. Internationalization Support, describing how a firm can be helped to reach beyond national borders. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 7

8 3.2. Guidelines For each one of the five procedures, a set of guidelines describe how it functions. We describe each procedure as a diagram with relationships between the guideline phases each guideline phase is shortly analyzed immediately after each diagram. Case Handling New Case Reception: An SME approaches the system via the one-stop-shop. The one-stop-shop staff aid them to fill-in a quick support request form with details on the specific problem that needs to be addressed. Case Forwarding: The one-stop-shop staff performs a first assessment of the request. The reply might be as simple as pointing the SME towards a specific case recorded in the library, e.g. a record by another SME who had the same request. If this is not available, the expert staff in the receiving node or in other nodes of the network are chosen and the request is forwarded. Case Servicing: The SME with the appointed experts run through the request and -via consulting- the SME is guided towards a solution. The SME may be presented 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 8

9 with a variety of options to choose from. Sometimes the request is serviced via tangible support like incubation or investment. Once the request has been serviced, the SME has to notify the initial receiving node, which labels the case closed. Feedback to the system: Once a case is closed, the initial receiving nodes onestop-shop gathers feedback from the SME and the experts and adds the results to the systems library. If the reaction led to a new practice, then the new practice might be evaluated to check if it could be considered a good practice that is worth disseminating to other members. The system on line library is a place where interested parties can search for: Regulations applicable to their case Similar Support Cases from the past Other SMEs with similar open cases that would be willing to exchange ideas Best practices and guidelines 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 9

10 Best Practice Dissemination Best Practice Reporting: A service node is responsible for reporting all cases that present novel characteristics on how an SME was supported to achieve a specific goal. Reporting is done via sending the support case summary reports or via special memos when a best practice was not directly related to an SME case. In any case, the decision to name a practice as best has to be approved by the network management or the corresponding representatives. Best Practice Discovery: Discovering best practices can also be proactive. The network management issues a call fro best practices and all nodes and cluster members can reply by describing practices they apply or practices they are aware of. Tools that could be used include small contests, publicity articles, direct interviews et al. In any case, the decision to name a practice as best has to be approved by the network management or the corresponding representatives. Categorization and Formalization: Best practices -in order to be accessible- have to 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 10

11 be categorized and formalized. Typical categories of best practices are innovation, internationalisation, consulting support, tangible support, cooperation, dissemination etc. A best practice is formalized by entering its description in a special template that includes practical information like who, what, how and a description (step-by-step if applicable) of the practice. Then it is uploaded on the network library. Forward of Information to other Actors: simply uploading the best practice on the library is not enough as we want other actors to learn about it and choose whether they want to apply it as well. This dissemination is performed via: Newsletters and Press Releases sent to selected actors A best practice session in workshops Social networking like LinkedIn and Facebook Assist other actors in implementation: the nodes of the 2InS network which first reported or implemented a best practice must be prepared to aid others. Once someone decides to apply such a practice, they first approach the reporting node and then they may get forwarded to the SME who benefits from it. Assistance comes in the simple form of advice or can also involve sharing of some tools, e.g. a spreadsheet template or a detailed methodology description. Update and Improve: A practice may need to be updated if the environment of operation changes. E.g. if a legal requirement is added, the steps to maintain compliance may have to be modified. Also, through application by other actors, a practice may improve or generalize. In any case, the updated best practice description is uploaded on the library and an or other form of notification is sent to the parties who had expressed interest in the first place. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 11

12 2InS Cooperation Local Cluster Cooperation (vertical): Each regional or thematic cluster is coordinated in annual or semi-annual meetings. The meetings are used to set new goals, evaluate progress made during the previous period and discuss/resolve any problems that might appear. Facilitator Cooperation (cross-cluster): Facilitators with similar scope in different clusters can cooperate by exchanging ideas and practices. A physical face-to-face meeting may not be necessary, however video conferencing is suggested. SME Cooperation (cross-cluster): SMEs from different clusters are not directly linked to each-other. Special networking and cooperation events can be organized to bring them together. These events are more naturally organized by thematic area as there will also be a potential business interest for the SMEs. Network Management: This is done via an annual meeting of cluster management board. Day to day cooperation is handled by each organizations management representatives. Recording and Reporting is performed by the node's staff. It is important to realize 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 12

13 that recording the network is vital as this is the only way we can recognize potential problems or opportunities by post processing the records. Record summaries and reports can also be uploaded to the network on-line library for reference by all members. The outcome of recording can also be the input to an efficiency measurement system. Measuring the efficiency of complex structures like a network of clusters is more of an art than of a skill, however there are some measurable aspects like: Year-to-year growth on the number of cross-cluster transactions Overall financial growth of the SMEs supported by 2InS cluster nodes Number of joint initiatives undertaken by SMEs Number of training events and workshops organized by the network Number of identified best practices - are they copied by other members? Number of requests serviced by the one-stop-shop. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 13

14 Innovation Support Enabling Innovation: To enable innovation a set of initiatives must be followed. In research and education organizations, enablement comes from allowing teams and individuals to experiment with the available problems, solutions and resources. Innovation promoting events, contests, publicity to innovative results etc. are some of the means that can be applied to make people admire innovation and want to be creators. Discovering Innovation: Discovery of innovation can be organized though interviews, visits of experts, report and paper analysis etc. Once an innovative idea is discovered, it is important to keep good record of: Who (the team who had the idea) What (what is exactly discovered here and what is reused) Maturity (how close is it to realization) Assessment of Innovation: the innovation reported has to be evaluated by experts to judge whether it has potential for commercial exploitation. Apart from the technical assessment, other aspects include: 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 14

15 Willingness of the team Financial justification Competitive technologies Is there demand for the new product Required resources and expertise etc. Incubation Support: One of the first needs for a new enterprise is to find a location from where to operate. An incubator will provide more than that mere office space however, as it can also provide administration, legal and accounting support. In some clusters, incubation is also related to access to funding. Commercialization Support: The necessary steps are creation of a prototype for the invention, market research to find the configuration which would lead to a successful market entry, setup of production packaging and testing, pricing, establishment of sales channels, creation of customer service infrastructure etc. Access to Funding: The third type of offering to innovative SMEs is that of access to funding. Either through government funds that can help in the very first R&D steps or through direct investment of angel funds (and later through venture capital), a small enterprise which is now building its product will need fuel to keep going. The 2InS clusters can help directly -through investing members- and indirectly by helping the entrepreneurs device and present a convincing business plan with clear goals, milestones and an appealing exit strategy. Consulting: generic guidelines apply to all types of consulting offered to SMEs. The expertise of the consultant, the confidentiality terms and the economies of scale that can be achieved when two or more SMEs get a single consulting contract are some of them. For instance, if there are three SMEs that develop software and all want to get their ISO9001-certified quality management systems up and running, they can hire the same consultant who will prepare a single quality system that can be applied to all of them with minor adjustments. A competent facilitator should be able to coordinate such sharing activities that achieve economies for the SMEs without compromising the quality of the offered advice. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 15

16 Internationalization Support Global Trends Analysis: Follow global trends by visiting trade fairs, reading journals and magazines and participating in networking events. Analyze the impact of these trends to each market sector and narrow down this to a specific product or service. Customer Analysis: Sketch a customer profile according to current sales of the product or similar products. Analyze customer behavior; how the decide, how often they buy, what are their cost / quality tradeoffs. Predict customer evolution by crossmatching to global trends. Regulation Analysis: Monitor regulations that apply to the product. Watch out for new releases of standards or recommendations. Analyze the impact on regulations that affect the customers to their predicted purchasing patterns. Marketing Support: Support the SME to make its own market analysis, including scope, target groups, product placement and pricing, promotion strategies etc. The customers marketing plans take input from the previous Foreign Involvement Support: The marketing plans may indicate that there is a 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 16

17 need for foreign involvement that goes beyond simply selling to other countries. The scale of involvement from a distributor agreement to the establishment of a foreign branch should be decided early, even if it will be implemented later as the company grows. Support from 2InS cluster in the target regions can be valuable here as finding competent consultants, expert lawyers and accountants and even finding a suitable location for the branch offices is safer if you get local help. Product Plan Support: A major outcome of the marketing effort is the product plan. In many enterprises, the sequence of product generations and the features of each generation are crucial to market success, and a major factor for maximization of profits. Staffing and Resource Planning: as the company grows it should always be staffed with the best possible and equipped with the right tools and infrastructure. Planning for that growth avoid spending too early while ensuring that the resources will be there when needed. A cluster node can also coordinate the human resource plans of many SMEs with the flow of graduates from its academic members, through internships and career support mechanisms. Distribution & Sales Support: Finding the right sales channel is easier if you can follow the steps of someone who has been there before. Within the clusters, already established firms can provide leads to newcomers as long as there is no conflict of interests. 2InS 3.3.a. Part 2 Organization and Regulation 17

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