Innovation Management at SMEs: Implementing New Concepts and Preparing Ideas for Markets

Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum provides support with the development of future strategies

The competitiveness of an enterprise hinges around its ability to think up innovations, develop them, and launch them successfully in the market – especially if the company is a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). Central to this is innovation management, an area in which Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ) provides support. A number of companies in Baden-Württemberg have already benefitted from its support, and worked with SEZ on the development of a strategy for the future that fits like a glove.

What can companies do to gain a competitive edge? What is the best way to cut costs and optimize resources? And what about a company’s potential to innovate? How does a company gear itself to international business and who are the right people to know? Making the transition from research to market-ready products is often one of the most tortuous parts of the innovation process. The European Commission provides funding through its Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, thus allowing experts from the Enterprise Europe Network to support SMEs with innovation projects. This helps them develop innovative products and services before launching them in the market. SEZ advises SMEs from Baden-Württemberg on such undertakings.

Innovation management refers to the methodical planning and steering of innovation processes within a company, ranging from an innovative idea to its actual implementation as a product or service. But innovation is not just about carrying out research, it also includes all of the necessary steps to get products into markets.

SEZ provides support by acting as a moderator during this process,working alongside companies and covering a number of different stages: 

  • An evaluation of the potential for innovation and competitive strengths
  • Identification and assessment of strengths and weaknesses in the innovation processes
  • Determination of the goals and strategies for an innovation
  • Concrete recommendations on the planning and implementation of innovations – from ideas to markets
  • Support during the implementation process

One company that took advantage of these services was db&w GbR, whose core business is to develop and produce the software modules found in 3D computer graphics programs that create images and animations. db&w (full name db&w Bornemann und Wolf GbR) is a global player, and, in the past, its technological advantage has allowed it to pick up on trends in the 3D market at an early stage and translate these into marketable products.

The project team at SEZ joined forces with db&w to work on the innovation strategy and the future vision of the company. Aside from putting the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses under the microscope, plus the firm’s visions, the SEZ specifically examined its technology. To do this, it selected a highly promising technology and explored each aspect of this technology individually. This detailed assessment made it possible for the company to decide which individual parts of the technology should be developed in-house and which could be developed outside the company. By looking at the life cycle of individual products and evaluating their market potential, the company and SEZ were able to define a future market strategy. They then organized an in-depth workshop which was supervised by a moderator to create a roadmap for marketing and communication actions over the next 18 months. SEZ then used this roadmap to write an action plan, providing a list of key actions for each challenge the company will face in the months to come.


Hartmut Welck, Heike Fischer, Dr. Frederik Metzger
Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (Stuttgart)

Share this page