SMEs need help to commercialise innovations, finds EU survey

Out-Law News | 29 May 2014 | 9:59 am | 1 min. read

Small and medium-sized businesses need more help to make a commercial success of innovative new ideas they come up with, the European Commission has said.

A survey of more than 11,000 EU businesses conducted earlier this year found that most organisations (68%) believe that a lack of finance acts as the main barrier to commercialising innovations.

The Commission's 'Innobarometer' survey found that 66% of businesses had developed at least one innovation since the start of 2011 but that 91% of the respondents had said they had not received any public funding towards innovation, such as research and development (R&D), during that period. Nearly half (49%) of the businesses that said they had received financial support said that it had not been important to developing their innovations.

"Innovation plays a pivotal role in sustaining and improving Europe’s overall competitiveness and growth," Antonio Tajani, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, said: “We need to work closely with member states to help SMEs gain access to credit so as to empower them to successfully commercialise their innovations."

The survey asked businesses whether they had developed new or significantly improved goods, services, marketing strategies, organisational structures or processes. Of the UK respondents, 69% said they had at least one such innovation since January 2011, compared to 63% and 55% of German respondents respectively.

Whilst a lack of resources was the biggest barrier to the commercialising of innovation the survey respondents also said that other problems included market domination by established competitors and the meeting regulatory obligations or standards as the other main problems companies face.

Companies in competitive markets were more likely than those in uncompetitive markets to have innovated, the Commission's report said.

The report also said that large companies were more likely to have "introduced new or significantly improved processes or organisational structures" than businesses with smaller turnovers.

Manufacturing and retail businesses are the most proficient innovators, whilst innovations had a positive impact on 90% of the businesses surveyed, it said.

"Companies that had introduced innovative goods and/or services since January 2011 were asked the proportion of turnover in 2013 innovative goods or services represented," the report said. "For at least six in ten companies (61%), innovative goods or services contributed 25% or less to the annual turnover in 2013. Just over one in ten companies (13%) said innovative goods or services contributed 26% to 50% to the annual turnover, 3% mention a contribution of between 51% and 75%, while 4% said the contribution was between 76% and 100%. One in ten said that innovative goods or services did not make any contribution to the turnover in 2013."