Across Europe, ICT SMEs are a highly significant part of the private sector, representing for 3.99% of total GDP (2011). Total ICT sector employment in the EU amounted to 6.13 million employed people and 507.61 billion euros value added in 2011.
Even back in the middle of the 20th century, Einstein worried about creativity and innovation. Now as we moved into the 21st century, we still have major concerns about how we manage these in our industries. This is particularly relevant in today's highly competitive market place where creativity is becoming even more important and, in many cases, provides a competitive edge in a sector.
ICT is among the leading sectors in Europe making an increasingly important contribution to the economic growth and jobs creation in advanced economies. As one of the principle missions of the European Commission, ICT industry is stated to be the future major engine of growth as highlighted in the three key Flagships of Europa 2020 - the Digital Agenda for Europe, Innovation Union and An Industrial policy for the Global Era.
The ICT sector is distinguished by a high degree of globalisation that is why the tackled issue goes beyond the national borders and requires joint European effort to preserve the ICT sector as a key factor for future European competitiveness.
The Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014 classifies EU member states into 4 groups based on their research and innovation performance:
>> Estonia and UK are “Innovation followers” with performance close to the EU average;
>> Italy, Spain and Hungary are “Moderate innovators” - below the EU average;
>> Bulgaria is "Modest innovator" - innovation performance below the EU average.
Excluding the fourth category “Innovation leaders”, project partnership encompasses countries from all 3 performance groups facing the need to build the foundation for a sustainably growing innovative economy in the years to come.
Numerous projects related to tailor-made training solutions for SMEs are already available and circulating around Europe including such for creativity development and innovation boosting.
The new aspect brought by INNOSPARK is the narrow focus on the information and communication technology (ICT) sector for SMEs as the skills required to spark the creativity in a clothing industry company are substantially different from the creativity thinking skills necessary for an IT expert to architect a software product.
While SME companies from other industries may transfer and adapt some of the project results for their purposes, the INNOSPARK results are mainly applicable and mostly beneficial for micro, small and medium ICT companies.
In order to encompass the peculiarities of the sector from all perspectives the project Consortium Partners involve project stakeholders in all planned activities thus guarantee that the exact needs of the ICT sector is reflected in the developed of the State-of-the-art report - an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the ICT innovation capacity and creative performance in the project partner countries; Self-Diagnostic Test – an interactive creativity skills self-assessment tool for ICT employees and employers; Toolkit – a guidebook for developing creative thinking and innovation in ICT; and Compendium of Best Practices and Innovation- reference tool for ICT companies seeking to implement successful, evidence-based innovation practices reached through creativity thinking techniques.
INNOSPARK - ICT offers opportunities for creativity in all areas of the curriculum. To promote creative thinking and behaviour, time is needed for experimentation with the tools and the medium. This can sometimes be through 'creative play', but creative people will need to find out the scope of the software they use, if they are to use it creatively.