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Introduction

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the revised, extended and updated practical Guide to Support Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises that was released in May 2009. It's content covers subjects which are part of the innovation process and the acceptance of the guide has proved its usefulness:

The first edition of the Guide was released in 2005 and within a few months more than 1500 registered users from over 50 countries from around the world have accessed the online guide. About 28.000 web pages currently refer to www.innosupport.net.

The Guide has been carefully evaluated, updated and extended; some chapters have been partly rewritten and new chapters have been included, in addition new media elements and learning assignments that support understanding and rapid orientation have been added.

Who is this guide for?
The InnoSupport Guide is an introduction to the basic tools to support innovation in SMEs. We aim not to address experienced R&D experts but rather staff in SMEs (human resource managers, staff responsible for product and process development in small and medium enterprises) who need to know the basics of a successful innovation practice.

We address people who do not have overall knowledge of the many-facetted innovation processes but who wish or indeed need to know more about it.

Therefore, we also address marketing and service personnel, students or continuing professional development trainees who might use it as “a pocket guide” for economic and innovation related subjects. Business consultants might wish to use it as an additional tool to support their clients or to give their clients a general understanding of innovative issues.

What is the scope of the guide?
Innovation can lead to success and the best way to achieve the expected results is when tried and tested processes are understood and applied. About 40 chapters have been designed to support general understanding of innovation related issues and to support learning of the processes in the workplace.

The chapters include examples, checklists and instructions. In addition, the online platform enables users to exchange knowledge and experiences with others.

The content is now available in English, German, Spanish, Greek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Latvian, Italian, Czech, Portuguese and Turkish. There are also versions of the Guide in Polish and Romanian but this content has not been updated recently and represents the Guide as it was developed in 2005.

What is the general structure of the modules?
First, the material tells you where a certain technique or process can be used. The information on where and how to apply the tool aims to help you decide if a more intense application will be useful for you and the objectives you have in mind. Examples and case studies are meant to underpin the understanding and illustrate practical applications.

You can use the search function to find more information within the platform. You can explore related resources to the chapter of interest to you or annotations made by other users. You might use one of the suggested ‘Innovation Rooms’ to try out some of the explained techniques. This product is therefore a combined learning and working tool. For readers who require more complex tools, expert assistance or further learning, a reference section at the end of each chapter will guide you to additional resources.

How do you benefit from the guide?
After reading the content you will be in a better position to make a sound decision on the usefulness of a certain innovation tool for your purposes and your working environment. The guide and platform offer orientation, learning and exchange with colleagues according to individual needs.

This way, we hope the guide will prove to be of real value to users who strives for competitiveness and innovation in his or her company. However, we know that there is always scope for further development and we would appreciate if you add your own resources, annotations and suggestions for future improvement directly to the online platform or by contacting one of the partners in your country.

We wish you success in working and learning with the InnoSupport Guide!