Innovation is an unstructured process in most of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The so called “Innovation Management Techniques”, considered by the European Commission as an useful driver to improve competitiveness, are still underutilized by SMEs. Such techniques include Knowledge Management, Market Intelligence, Creativity Development, Innovation Project Management and Business Creation. However, within these techniques, the Creativity Development techniques are the less used among SMEs. The only activity performed by almost all SMEs is the search for external information, in different sources such as the web, patent databases, in trade fairs or discussing with clients and partners. The main source of information for SMEs is the Internet search, an activity realized by more than 90% of SMEs when dealing with innovation. Knowledge and information are often distributed in heterogeneous and unstructured sources across networked systems and organizations. Search for entities (such as competitors or new products) is not always sufficient as search for knowledge, as the one related to novel processes or brands and marketing analysis (whereas connected to large scale opinion mining), is based upon richer information.

The system targeted in the INSEARCH EU project embodies most of the ideas of the currently en vogue Enterprise Semantic Search technologies. In order to determine the core functionalities in the targeted system, an analysis involving 90 SMEs has been performed during the INSEARCH project to understand the process of searching within the innovation process. Most of the SMEs (92% of 90 interviewed SMEs) declared to make use of market and/or technology information when planning a technological innovation. Such informations are used to collect novel information for innovative ideas, performing prior art investigation, acquiring knowledge for technical planning or just gather inspiration and ideas. This search targets product and processes and it is mainly performed on scientific Web Sites and Competitors web site.

In these scenarios, keyword-based search related to product types and functions of the products are still used to retrieve information related to innovation processes. Search is mostly performed through iterative searches, evaluating search results through the very first lines of documents/web sites. Overall, the most requested knowledge extraction features are related to finding patterns within documents to propose possible innovation or customer requirements. This requirements are in line with the INSEARCH proposed approach of making usage of a TRIZ based methodology, to abstract functionalities from the specific innovation case under study and search for information through specific patterns (the TRIZ based Object-Action-Tool patterns) that could propose to SMEs possible technology innovations for the system under study.

The system targeted in the INSEARCH project embodies most of the state-of-the-art techniques for Enterprise Semantic Search: highly accurate lexical semantics, semantic web tools, collaborative knowledge management and personalization. An advanced information retrieval system has been developed integrating robust semantic technologies and industry-standard software architectures for proactive search as well as personalized domain-specific classification and ranking functionalities.



Roberto BasiliDanilo CroceDiego De Cao, Valerio Storch