Background and Purpose: The field of innovation represents for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) a fundamental challenge. If the number of innovative SMEs is to rise, it is necessary to identify key factors determining their innovation activity and eliminate the innovation barriers. The main purpose of the paper is to present the results of primary research focused on identification (evaluation) of key factors and barriers determining innovation activities in Slovak SMEs. The division of SMEs into three groups of enterprises: innovation leaders, modest innovators and non-innovators enables to identify the differences in managers’ perception of the main factors and barriers determining innovation activities in various types of SMEs and to formulate policy implications for Slovak SMEs.
Design/Methodology/Approach: Results of the empirical research were processed using MS Excel and the statistical analysis of the data in R3.2.4. statistical system was done. For statistical tests we assumed significance level (α = 0.1).
Results: Evaluating the importance of the key factors a majority of enterprises (64.71%) indicated financial resources as the most important factor for the innovations. There is no statistically significant difference in individual (analysed) factors between innovation leaders, non-innovators and innovation followers (modest innovators). The results gained from Fisher exact test (p-value = 0.11) indicated a small difference in evaluating the significance of individual barriers between innovation leaders, non-innovators and modest innovators. Majority of enterprises also see as the main barriers to develop innovation activities bureaucracy and corruption and inappropriate state support of innovation activities.
Conclusion: The main implications (conclusion) coming from the research are basic recommendations for state policy makers as well as SME’s managers to foster innovation activities in enterprises. They refer to the areas of financial resources, high-quality human resources, cooperation and participation of SMEs in different networks and clusters, systematic institutional support to SMEs, well-created vision and clearly formulated aims, and willingness of enterprises to innovate. Recommendations are summarised following the results of factor’s and barrier’s evaluation.
Clusters became an integral part of regional policies intended to build and strengthen competitive advantages within specifically identified geographical areas. They are still considered crucial for economic development and employment, although their orientation has slightly changed as the distance and geographical boundaries lost their importance. This article analyses crucial regional data that indicates potentially beneficial economic concentrations as an assumption for the preparation of prospective clusters in Slovakia. Potential clusters were identified based on significant employment concentrations of particular regional industries that appear extraordinary when compared with national employment and the dynamic development within the selected time frame. Prospective clusters were identified, and opportunities of their development were described, including the harmonisation with the current regional and urban strategy. Analysing absolute and relative quantities in employment, sections and divisions of SK NACE were used for the proper identification of industries. The location quotient served as a tool for the spatial concentration of employment in the Banská Bystrica region, the threshold value for the selection of cluster candidates was set to 2. The shift–share analysis was used for the identification of long-term changes in employment, and 10% of the most dynamic industries were presented at the level of divisions once and then, at the level of sections of SK NACE. Forestry and logging, the manufacture of wood products and the manufacture of basic metals were confirmed by both methods as significant concentrations. The result partially corresponded with the previously active and currently inactive cluster in Banská Bystrica, which was focused on mechanical engineering, still significant when considering numbers of companies and employees as well as sales. Forestry was the most concentrated industry, while the wholesale and retail trades were the most dynamic. Forestry, logging and manufacture of wood products might be strongly interlinked with the current entrepreneurial and social strategy of self-governing regions that is still at the stage of potential cluster identification and fitting to its priorities. The article assumed basic quantitative methods utilised for the identification of prospective clusters. It confirmed the practicality of their application, the gravity of data processing and also certain possible limitations due to the extraordinary focus on the employment concentration. According to the analysis and gained results, the former cluster in the Banská Bystrica region was confirmed as the potentially significant actor in the regional policy (although, currently, having no industrial or public interest) and the new cluster candidates were identified. Outcomes indicated the need to continue the research with a more detailed examination of qualitative aspects that could complete the effort by focusing on clusters not only having higher employment statistics but also the support from regional institutions, also reflecting the preferences of businesses.