Ispim2005 Full Paper Labein Tractor

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Description of the EU innovation project about entrepreneusrhip development programs. Presented in the ISPIM conference 2005

Description of the EU innovation project about entrepreneusrhip development programs. Presented in the ISPIM conference 2005

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  • 1. 01 CREATING AND CONSOLIDATING BUSINESS IN TRACTOR Carlos Peña LABEIN Technological Centre carlos@labein.es Javier Mendibil LABEIN Technological Centre jmendibil@labein.es Guadalupe del Río LABEIN Technological Centre gdelrio@labein.es Javier Ruiz LABEIN Technological Centre jruiz@labein.es A rich generation of young potential entrepreneurs is wasted every day due to the hard obstacles that they have to face up to when transforming an innovative idea into a strong and consolidated company. The difficulty is not only in the starting up of the new companies from those good innovative ideas, but also in the huge challenge of a long-term success that depends on changing mentality and the way of dealing with technical and knowledge- driven market conditions while remaining faithful to the original mission. In this paper, some outcomes of the TRACTOR project (2002-2005) are presented. This project aims to facilitate the creation of new innovative companies, and to increase the success rates of star-ups. It integrates consolidated practices about creation and development of new innovative companies in the involved countries (Spain, France, Sweden and Slovenia) in a TRACTOR scheme, supported by an open source internet platform. 1. INTRODUCTION A rich generation of young potential entrepreneurs is wasted every day due to the hard obstacles that they have to face up to when trying to transform an innovative idea into a strong and consolidated company. The difficulty is not only in the starting up of the new companies from those good innovative ideas, but also in the huge challenge of a long-term success that depends on changing mentality and the way of dealing with technical and market conditions while remaining faithful to the original mission. Moreover, they need to reach such transformation under the so-called knowledge-based market conditions, which imply new challenges and skills in a new global environment –knowledge driven competition.
  • 2. NUMBER OF START-UP/SIZE ISPIM 2005 The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) becomes a great opportunity for the companies to make a more efficient use of its resources, enlarging their possibilities as regards to the choice of location and the onset of new methods of employment, offering them the instruments required for innovating and adapting to the changing economic environment, etc. 2. THE CONCEPTION OF TRACTOR But how to reach these goals when there is a lack of financial resources, lack of skills (particularly relevant for technology driven new services), obstacles to sales activities and a bureaucratic mess? (European Observatory of SMEs, 2000) How to fight against the fact that start-ups reach a considerable size in a short period of time and then they show serious difficulties to survive? Tractor is born with the objective of creating a favourable environment to the business creation and to the consolidation of young companies by means of providing some accompanying processes that combine physical support and consultancy with the so-called e-learning. This way TRACTOR aims to facilitate the creation of new innovative companies, and to increase the success rate of the young innovative star-ups. TRACTOR provides specific guiding materials for entrepreneurs, integrating consolidated practices about creation and development of new innovative companies in Spain, France, Sweden and Slovenia, in a TRACTOR scheme, all of which is supported by an open source internet platform that facilitates an e-learning environment. 0100090000037800000002001c00000000000400000003010800050000000b020 0000000050000000c021d05ce07040000002e0118001c000000fb021400090000000 000bc02000000000102022253797374656d0005ce070000853300006454110070838 23938f4d2040c020000040000002d01000004000000020101001c000000fb029cff00 00000000009001000000000440001254696d6573204e657720526f6d616e00000000 00000000000000000000000000040000002d010100050000000902000000020d0000 00320a500000000100040000000000ca071a0520182d00040000002d010000030000 000000 Figure 1 – General Objectives of TRACTOR Other more specific objectives achieved at TRACTOR have been, firstly, the transition from tacit to explicit knowledge of existing and new practices in supporting entrepreneurs. And secondly, the stimulation of the learning process among the partners and other actors already working in the support of entrepreneurs and start-up companies. 2
  • 3. Creating and Consolidating Business in Tractor 3. TRACTOR METHODOLOGY The Tractor scheme is summarised in the following figure: 0100090000037800000002001c00000000000400000003010800050000000b020000 0000050000000c021d05ce07040000002e0118001c000000fb021400090000000000 bc02000000000102022253797374656d0005ce070000853300006454110070838239 38f4d2040c020000040000002d01000004000000020101001c000000fb029cff00000 00000009001000000000440001254696d6573204e657720526f6d616e00000000000 00000000000000000000000040000002d010100050000000902000000020d0000003 20a500000000100040000000000ca071a0520182d00040000002d010000030000000 000 Figure 2 –TRACTOR Scheme The TRACTOR methodology (Tractor, 2003) resulted from the integration of the different methodologies and best practises utilised by the project incubator partners, and it includes a step-by-step definition of two main processes: 1) Business Advisor Support from the Incubator centre to the entrepreneur and oriented to the construction of the Business Plan. The potential entrepreneurs are supported on all stages of the Business Plan creation, from the validation of their idea to the development and validation of their Business Plan. It will be the Business Advisor, an expert from the incubator centre, the person responsible of interacting with the entrepreneur, deciding about the validity of his/her business idea and assuring that a continuous support is given to the project. The regular contacts with the Business Advisor will allow potential entrepreneurs to solve any doubt during the creation of their business plan as well as in the future creation of the company. The supporting process is shown in the following figure: 0100090000037800000002001c00000000000400000003010800050000000b020000 0000050000000c021d05ce07040000002e0118001c000000fb021400090000000000 bc02000000000102022253797374656d0005ce070000853300006454110070838239 38f4d2040c020000040000002d01000004000000020101001c000000fb029cff00000 00000009001000000000440001254696d6573204e657720526f6d616e00000000000 00000000000000000000000040000002d010100050000000902000000020d0000003 20a500000000100040000000000ca071a0520182d00040000002d010000030000000 000 3
  • 4. ISPIM 2005 Figure 3 – Potential Entrepreneurs Accompanying Process 2) Accompanying start-ups in the diagnosis of their enterprise maturity level. It means the support from the Business Advisor (Incubator Centre) to the manager or owner of the start-up, and oriented to make an effective assessment of the situation of the company and a posterior implantation of an improvement plan. Entrepreneurs already running their businesses face new challenges that differ from the ones they faced when started down the road of entrepreneurship. Now, a few years after the creation of the company, a new change in the business is needed. But… in which direction? Tractor offers start-ups the opportunity to make an on-line analysis of their enterprise maturity level and counting with the support of their Business Advisor, identify the areas of the company which require greater effort and use that as a base for future comparison with subsequent assessments, thus reflecting the degree of improvement achieved. Both the assessment and the improvement phases are based on a maturity management model born from the adaptation of EFQM to micro-and- small-medium-size companies. 4
  • 5. Implementation of Training Plan Creating and Consolidating Business in Tractor The process is shown in the following figure: 0100090000037800000002001c00000000000400000003010800050000000b020000 0000050000000c021d05ce07040000002e0118001c000000fb021400090000000000 bc02000000000102022253797374656d0005ce070000853300006454110070838239 38f4d2040c020000040000002d01000004000000020101001c000000fb029cff00000 00000009001000000000440001254696d6573204e657720526f6d616e00000000000 00000000000000000000000040000002d010100050000000902000000020d0000003 20a500000000100040000000000ca071a0520182d00040000002d010000030000000 000 Figure 4 – Start-ups Accompanying Process Although the entrepreneurs can come from different origins (other companies, technology centres, laboratories, etc), however TRACTOR project focuses mainly in the three next target groups: - TG1: University Students: Potential entrepreneurs in the long term that demand specific knowledge and information about entrepreneurship. - TG2: Students with a Business Idea: Potential entrepreneurs that demand immediate support to validate their business idea, and obtain the knowledge and resources to create their new Business. - TG3: Start Ups (0-5 years): They need to improve their management knowledge and skills and to implement management procedures in order to consolidate their business project. The E-learning Platform (Tractor, 2005) is the physical implantation of the TRACTOR methodology. Any incubator centre may utilise the platform as it can be adapted to their necessities and changed accordingly, both in contents and in appearance (multilingual capacities). As it is open source it's also possibly to integrate the platform into the web servers of the centre. Through this platform the incubator can provide support to entrepreneurs and young start-ups, as a complement to other face-to-face support activities. Other resources also available through the platform are: - Learning and Awareness Contents: best practices, case studies, marketing, financial analysis, diagnosis against maturity model, tools for a simple management process, templates, etc. - Incubator Support: Business Advisors together with experts and tractoring agents can interact with the entrepreneur and provide their assistance and follow-up activities. 5
  • 6. ISPIM 2005 - Communication facilities through which entrepreneurs, start-ups, Business Advisors and other local agents can exchange opinions, questions, suggestions etc, and thus collaborate and informally build national and international networks. 4. DEVELOPING ‘SOFT SKILLS’ As time moves on and the team of the new company grows, young managers have to develop new management skills. The entrepreneur needs to transform into a professional manager (Swiercz & Lydon, 2002) with good leadership skills, as well as build up the team and improve communication across the company. In intend to give answer to start-ups’ real needs, Tractor members have developed an innovative multimedia module that aims to raise awareness about the importance of leadership, team building and communication issues (Taylor, 1990) when managing a young, innovative start-up. The Multimedia Module is an interactive game, available in several languages and composed of approximately 40 stories reflecting typical problems and situations. Throughout the game, the user experiences real situations while learning important aspects of managing a team. The player is presented with suggestions and recommendations in each situation. 0100090000037800000002001c00000000000400000003010800050000000b020 0000000050000000c021d05ce07040000002e0118001c000000fb021400090000000 000bc02000000000102022253797374656d0005ce070000853300006454110070838 23938f4d2040c020000040000002d01000004000000020101001c000000fb029cff00 00000000009001000000000440001254696d6573204e657720526f6d616e00000000 00000000000000000000000000040000002d010100050000000902000000020d0000 00320a500000000100040000000000ca071a0520182d00040000002d010000030000 000000 Figure 5 – Multimedia Module Screen 6
  • 7. Creating and Consolidating Business in Tractor 5. AKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors are grateful to the European Commission for its financial support, to the partners of Tractor for the knowledge and the effort provided to the project, to the Team Academy for its effort in the review of the Multimedia, to our subcontractors, to the entrepreneurs, managers, business advisors, friends and colleagues that participated in the different phases of the project and anonymous reviewers for their feedback on this research. 6. REFERENCES 1. European Commission. The European Observatory for SMEs - Sixth Report, Executive Summary. 2000. 2. Swiercz P.M. and Lydon S.R. Entrepreneurial leadership in high-tech firms: a field study. Leadership & Organization Development Journal 23/07/2002: 380-389. 3. Taylor, G.R. Getting Results Through Good Communications. Business Credit; Nov/Dec 1990; 92, 8; ABI/INFORM Global pg.44. 4. Tractor Consortium. Deliverable 1.3. Tractor Methodology. October 2003. 5. Tractor Consortium. Deliverable 2.4. Tractor Platform: www.sme-innova.com/tractor March 2005. 7