Integrating services and tools in an ICT platform to support eco-innovation in SMEs

TitleIntegrating services and tools in an ICT platform to support eco-innovation in SMEs
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsButtol, P., Buonamici R., Naldesi L., Rinaldi C., Zamagni A., and Masoni Paolo
JournalClean Technologies and Environmental Policy
KeywordsDirect use, Eco-innovation, Ecodesign, Economic management, Gross domestic products, ICT, ICT platforms, Incremental innovation, Industry, INformation and communication technologies, Information technology, LCA, On-line service, Product design, Product groups, Simplified tools, Small and medium-sized enterprise, Start-ups, Web based platform, Web services, Websites, Whole process

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent a key vector to introduce and diffuse eco-innovation in the market, because of their relevance to both the environment and the European gross domestic product. As they are often focused on continuous and incremental innovation of their products, the optimization of product eco-innovation paths can be considered a central aspect of their business. All phases of this process (awareness building and training, analysis, product (re)design and communication/certification) need to be supported to overcome the existing barriers, which mainly consist of lack of experience inside SMEs and cost of information, data, and tools. Information and Communication Technologies can play a role to lower some of the barriers, but currently the numerous services and tools available cover only specific aspects of the whole process, and are often too complex for their direct use by SMEs. The multilingual web-based platform here presented aims to integrate user-friendly and free-of-charge services and tools to support all phases of the product eco-innovation process in SMEs. The approach behind mainly consists in developing tailored, simplified tools, and in carrying out "homogeneous product group" studies, as a basis for the production of pre-elaborated information and data to be used with the tools developed. Experience gained in 5 years of applications has confirmed that can facilitate the start-up of the product eco-innovation process, but has also shown that not all the potentialities have been fully exploited. Moreover, as the eco-innovation market is not developed enough to allow economic management of these kinds of online services, a public initiative is advocated to face this challenge and support a continuous upgrading. Modes and opportunities are proposed and discussed in the conclusion. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


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