Stimulating Eco-innovation Development in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Ecolabnet Eco-innovation Network
Keywords:Knowledge, eco-innovation, eco-innovation network, Ecolabnet, SME
The issues of the article concern the development of eco-innovations, which determine the level of eco-innovativeness not only of individual enterprises but also of regions and countries. Given the low level of eco-innovativeness in many economies of the world, it is necessary to take action targeted at increasing the objective level. Such a result can be obtained by saturating all business processes with eco-innovative solutions. An example of an initiative aimed at stimulating eco-innovative behavior is the Ecolabnet project, implemented by an international network of partners (Network of Service Providers for Eco-innovations in Manufacturing SMEs - Ecolabnet) representing research and development units from six Baltic Sea countries. The network has been established as a part of the ongoing Baltic Sea Region Interreg Programme 2014-2020. In order to support enterprises—SMEs in particular—in the development of eco-innovation, it is first necessary to diagnose their needs and expectations in this respect. These needs have been identified using surveys carried out among SMEs based in the Baltic Sea countries. In response to the identified needs, eight packages of eco-innovation services dedicated to SMEs have been developed: Business strategy, Eco-innovation management, Bio-based materials, Product design and development, 3D printing, Environmental assessment, Marketing, and Other eco-innovation expertise. For targeting the offered services more precisely, companies were categorized in terms of their eco-innovative attitudes. Six types of eco-identity were distinguished: Eco-Opportunist, Eco-Booster, Eco-Developer, Eco-Optimizer, Eco-Cautious, and Eco-Laggard. A digital collaboration tool (DCT) has been developed to enable unrestricted access to network resources, such as services and products. DCT stimulates the creation of a service providers network to support eco-innovative activities in small and medium-sized enterprises. The main objective of the article is to present the potential of the international network of Ecolabnet partners to stimulate the development of eco-innovation in enterprises.
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