Stimulating creativity as a structured process to foster sustainable innovation in SMEs

The CreaInnovation Project, an EU Interreg MED project has been looking at how to stimulate innovation through creative thinking.
Source: CreaInnovation project

By CreaInnovation

CreaInnovation is an Interreg Mediterranean project

28 Jan 2021

It is generally accepted that innovation is the result of our creative capacity to generate ideas and of our managerial capacity to make these ideas operational. Creativity is a mental and sociological process that involves the cognitive ability of the mind to see things from a new perspective, produce new ideas and new concepts and establish unprecedented relationships between different elements.

Initially considered as an innate capacity of a few, the expansion of technology, knowledge and neuroscience and sociopsychology have made it possible to ascertain that the creative capacity, if stimulated and developed through specific methods and processes, allows for more profitable and easy skills to generate innovative ideas both in individuals and even more in heterogeneous working groups.

But, is creativity used in business to foster innovation? Or it is a skill only used in intellectual activities? Being creative in business means understanding how to use our imagination together with pragmatism and design skills. In this sense, the urge to dream with open eyes, to develop fantasies does not fall into creativity until someone is able to argue and/or transform such "visions" into a feasible "format of an idea".

Can we stimulate creativity, or it is an inherited talent someone is born with? We should not forget that creativity consists of giving birth to a new idea, while innovation is knowing how to apply it. This is the challenge; the transition from creativity to innovation is neither simple nor automatic. To stimulate SMEs’ creativity in business, the CreaInnovation project delivered 52 national and three transnational creativity workshops - the CreaLabs.

CreaLabs are ecosystems where creativity experts and facilitators come together with SMEs, managers and students in order to create new sustainable innovation ideas that will make MED SMEs more competitive.

CreaInnovation is the acronym of the project: “Create sustainable Innovation in SMEs using creative methods and Processes” an Interreg Mediterranean project whose main objective is to assist Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing new sustainable innovative products/ services through creative methods and processes and let them learn proven methods to generate new ideas targeting the improvement of their business skills and competitiveness.

CreaInnovation is a large-scale pilot project which, through the implementation of the Creativity Workshops, aims at:

  • Improving the production capacity and management of innovation within the company;
  • The acquisition of innovation skills of human resources and strengthening of their innovative action within companies;
  • Creating conditions for the promotion of collaborations, the utilisation of collective intelligence and creative thinking.

The results expected from the Creativity Workshops are summarised below:

  • Generation, during each workshop, of one or more innovative and sustainable business ideas that can be exploited by SMEs;
  • During the 52 national and three transnational workshops involving 59 SMEs, 94 innovative ideas and 26 innovative products were produced;
  • SMEs, managers and students tested and appreciated the power of the creative approach, as a well-structured process for creating new business ideas;
  • Participants focused on sustainable innovation (economic, environmental and social) and got acquainted with the Sustainability Assessment Tool - CISET (CreaInnovation Sustainability Evaluation Tool) developed in the framework of the CreaInnovation project. The above tool will be used to assess the viability of the ideas generated during the Creativity Workshops;
  • Development of a network of SMEs, managers, students and other stakeholders for further cooperation between them; (LinkedIn Group – https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13722335/)
  • Documentation of the creativity process / methodology that has been followed as well as the results that have been extracted to be used as teaching materials;
  • One international and nine national handbooks on CreaInnovation Labs;
  • A platform for accountability about CreaInnovation Labs impact has been developed containing data collected from project’s partners and key information of innovations ideas developed, products improved, workshops held, SMEs and Creativity – Innovation Experts involved and many more. 

For more information, visit the CreaInnovation Platform – https://creainnovation.rasip.fer.hr/

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