The innovation voucher project pilots in a concrete manner a new kind of financing instrument and electronic service system in cooperation with SMEs. The purpose of the service supported by the voucher is to lower the threshold for using innovation and growth services and to activate RDI activities of companies.
A service purchased with an innovation voucher must be a significant initiative or step towards something new for the company. Fields to be developed include smart transport, IoT, well-being, renewing industry and other solutions for smart urban development. The innovation voucher project is funded by the Council of Tampere Region (European Regional Development Fund, ERDF) and regional municipalities of Tampere.
The goal is to achieve a considerable increase in turnover and openings to new market areas. The operating model aims to achieve a flexible and fast digital process and openness and market-orientation. The innovation voucher systematically promotes experimental activities, innovative solutions and the development of product and service concepts in companies.
User feedback regarding both the impact of the voucher and the operating model itself have been promising. 75% of companies that have received the voucher report that the measure implemented with the help of the voucher has promoted exports or expansion to a new market area. 30% of companies estimate that the voucher measure will increase their turnover significantly. The measures (104) implemented with the help of the innovation voucher by the end of August 2017 have resulted in 13 new jobs as reported by the companies. The rest of the project’s voucher funds will be granted in September 2017, and negotiations for further funding are ongoing.
In terms of the operating model, an easy and fast process and openness and market-orientation are appreciated by the participating companies. Based on the feedback received, the voucher is particularly successful in activating the willingness of small companies to innovate and to implement measures that would be either postponed or rejected completely due to lack of resources. Of all companies that have received the voucher, almost half have not applied for or received any kind of public support before.
In light of the positive results of this experiment, foundations have been laid for turning the voucher into a permanent practice in implementing public business services in the wake of the pilot project.
Project Manager, Innovation Voucher