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Stimulating innovation in SME's

In Profit we developed a program to stimulate innovation in SME’s. This innovation programme consisted of different steps (see text box) to work towards real changes in the participating SME’s. First of all, together with the businesses we decided on the most important needs to work on: Product Development, Digital Marketing, Business Management & Collaboration. During the cross-border inspiration trips, businesses were inspired on these topics.
Additionally, a series of master classes in each region further inspired SMEs to work on these topics, for instance by using their DNA, creativity, big data and the various action plans already developed in PROFIT. The final phase involved individual coaching. We engaged experts to help us tackle the challenges together with our businesses. We worked on several themes and questions as:
- How can I use the DNA of my region to develop new products and services
- How can I use my available data to develop new products and services
- How can I collaborate with other SME’s?
- How can I become a 4 season business?
- …

During this phase, SMEs worked with innovation experts on their personal innovation challenge and were able to transform a specific idea into concrete action. The individual innovation challenges were further refined during ‘expert dating sessions’: speaking with a team of experts. All final ideas were written down in personal innovation plans by a business advisor/ personal coach, in total 95 plans throughout the 2 Seas region.

These innovation plans turn out to be a great starting point to develop the destination and generate more profit for individual businesses. To implement their personal innovation challenge and innovation plan, SMEs need to invest in their business. These investments will further develop the coastal region as a 4-season destination, which will attract more visitors to individual businesses.

We are happy to share the approach and the results: