Section 3: Streamlining and simplifying the innovation support ecosystem
Innovation support is one element of the range of business support offered by our Enterprise and Skills Agencies, alongside local authority partners and Business Gateway. The support provided by the Enterprise Agencies is complemented by other support from our universities, colleges, innovation centres, research institutes and Interface who also play a role in facilitating and supporting business innovation activity
Phase 1 and 2 evidence suggested that some businesses find it daunting or difficult to navigate the innovation support landscape and arrive at the appropriate help. Our evidence gathering suggests that this tends to be businesses that have not yet sought innovation support or who use services infrequently. This suggests that adjustments need to be made to how businesses access innovation support.
In line with proposals for the broader business support system , the Enterprise and Skills Agencies, working with relevant partners, will re-design and simplify the route of entry and how support is offered, making it simpler and quicker for businesses to access the support they need. Businesses will be helped throughout their journey so that as they grow and develop they are able to access the right support easily, at the right times, from the right providers. This builds on work already underway across our agencies.
This direction of travel is also in line with international trends. The OECD has reported that for its members: "streamlining business support has become a key issue, aiming to make access to public support easier and encourage its broad diffusion"  .
The approach outlined below will include the Enterprise and Skills Agencies in the first instance. We will work with key partners such as Interface, local authorities and Business Gateway to broaden the approach over time, maximising the benefit of this approach for our business base.
Simple, Streamlined Innovation Support Focussed on the User
Together, Scotland's Enterprise and Skills Agencies will support companies through all stages of the business lifecycle so they can access the right innovation support at the right times from the right providers as they grow and develop. That support will be focussed on the business user, as we address perceived clutter by re-designing public sector support around the customer's journey.
Building on existing provision, and in line with work undertaken for general business support, business users will experience a simpler customer journey that includes:
- A single, easy-to-access, digital entry point: based on customer need not product.
- A single application: fewer and ultimately only one request for the same basic information to cover multiple applications.
- Blended engagement based on business needs: A mix of face-to-face and digitally-enabled access to information, advice and support through engagement range of channels - including self-service, one-to-many, targeted intensive and expert support.
- Simple Language: a simpler common language and a consistent approach from the public sector that fully makes best use of digital support.
- First and Lead contacts: contact from the most appropriate first partner will be made within a specified time. This will be followed up with an early, assessment of needs to ensure support is tailored and provided by the right partner. For businesses with significant growth potential, a key contact within the most appropriate agency will be allocated backed by a more rounded team approach that strengthens that individual company's development and growth ambition.
To deliver this streamlined journey, we will:
- Develop a route map for changes to the innovation system.
- Establish a senior-level delivery group to oversee this on-going programme of streamlining support.
- Establish a cross-organisation digital improvement team.
- Set out a joint commitment from all public sector business support partners that makes clear the standards and levels of service businesses can expect.
- Pilot a 'Business Box' for companies - on registration, each business would receive an information pack with their business ID, including information on the types of support available, and the offer of follow up.
- Customise electronic communication to businesses in Scotland e.g. emails with embedded targeted content such as video, newsletters, case studies, to ensure businesses are aware of the benefits of innovation, know what support is available, including the availability of facilities and expertise provided by colleges and universities. This would be one component of the Communications Plan under development as part of the CAN DO Innovation Action Plan for Scotland.
Continue to develop our Knowledge
- Undertake further work on the audit of innovation support products to determine the cost effectiveness and impact of these interventions.
- Investigate the scope for a simplification of Scottish Government funding streams to support coherent delivery.
- Reinvest any savings arising from this in widening innovation across the business base.
- Develop measures to determine progress.
- Work with the Strategic Board to develop ambitious Scotland-wide targets on engagement with business to make more innovation happen.