SMEs are confronted with particular problems constraining their innovation activities. How their needs are fulfilled by support instruments has been investigated in a recent European research project. The results for the region of Upper Austria lead to the conclusion that some of the support is mistargeted, disregarding certain indicated or latent deficiencies of SMEs: direct financial support concentrates on research and development, neglecting the commercialization of innovations. In general, high-technology innovation projects are preferred, less technologically advanced or innovative firms lack adequate support. The spillover effects of technology centres are limited. The problem that most SMEs hardly interact with knowledge providers from outside the business sector (e.g., universities) is not reduced by the support instruments. Furthermore, they perform insufficiently the function of interfaces to innovation-related resources and information from outside the region. There is a lack of proactive consultancy concerning strategic, organizational, and technological weaknesses which is necessary because often the firms are not aware of such deficiencies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This paper is based on the research project on SME-Policy and the Regional Dimension of Innovation (SMEPOL) funded by the European Union (DG XII) under the Targeted Socio-Economic Research Programme (TSER) and coordinated by the STEP Group in Oslo. The authors wish to express gratitude to the funding organisations and the following TSER project leaders: Björn Asheim, Arne Isaksen (Norway, coordinators), Antonio Vazquez Barquero (Spain), Poul Rind Christensen (Denmark), Cioacchino Garofoli (Italy), Claire Nauwelaers (Belgium/The Netherlands), and David Smallbone (UK).
Franz Tödtling is Professor at the Department of City and Regional Development, Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. He has been doing research on industrial change, innovation, as well as on regional development and policy. He has been involved in a number of international projects and research cooperations funded by the US National Science Foundation, the European Science Foundation and the European Framework Program. Publications include “Regions Reconsidered: Networks, Innovations and Local Development in Industrialised Countries” (edited jointly with E. Bergman and G. Maier, Mansell, London, 1991), and “The Governance of Innovation in Europe” (jointly with Ph. Cooke and P. Boekholt, Pinter, London, 2000). Franz Tödtling has also published in a number of professional journals such as Regional Studies, Environment and Planning, Papers of the Regional Science Association, European Planning Studies, Research Policy, and Technovation.
- Innovation support instrument
- Upper Austria