Writer: Trine M. Nielsen, VIA University College

A survey conducted within the ECOLABNET project in the 6 partner countries – Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – shows, that the manufacturing SMEs in regard to eco-innovation in general are:

  • highly motivated,
  • already working with eco-innovation or at least considering it
  • making procedures for implementing eco-innovation in their business
  • having focus on developing new materials, products and packaging
  • using or at least paying attention to 3D in creating moulds and as part of their business cases

The survey also shows that the SMEs are

  • having uncertainty as to ROI if they are implementing eco-innovation in their business
  • struggling with legal issues
  • in lack of capital to make the necessary adjustments in e.g. production facilities
  • in need of external support as to development of materials, product development, legal issues, business plan development, branding support and more

About the report:

The focus of the research has been the SMEs’ needs in relation to their actual work and future development with eco-innovation in their business and in their production. This also includes the SMEs’ viewpoints and needs for collaboration in order to support their development.

The research is based on two different sets of data (mixed method), a quantitative part based on a survey using a questionnaire and a qualitative part based on semi-structured interviews. The conclusions in the report are based on both data sets.

The findings in a nutshell:

The manufacturing enterprises in the survey are generally highly motivated for eco-innovation.

Furthermore, the potential for making procedures, products and innovation itself more eco-friendly seems endless, but the SMEs lack knowledge about key questions like the worldwide development of relevant new materials, essential business possibilities and how to spread the word worldwide when a new evolution has been made.

Even the most experienced SMEs have a short history of working with eco-innovation and a great need of help from external experts, business-partners or network. Needs ECOLABNET will of course be aware of.