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Irish SMEs will soon be able to play an even bigger part in Ireland’s economic success story. The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and Skillnet Ireland have joined forces to launch a  new ISO Innovation Management System Standard and an aligned Innovation Excellence Programme (IEP), to help boost productivity levels in the sector.

In a unique dual launch of both the ISO Standard and the Innovation Excellence Programme, organisations will learn how to implement and manage innovation successfully by providing solutions that address real customer needs. The ISO standard is the foundation upon which this exciting new programme is built.

An organisations ability to innovate is widely recognised as a key factor for sustained profitable growth and economic viability. The innovation capabilities of an organisation include the ability to understand and respond to changing conditions, to pursue new opportunities, and to leverage the knowledge and creativity of people within the organisation, and in collaboration with external stakeholders and partners.

A recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) identified problems with productivity levels in the Irish SME sector. It found the gap in the productivity of large companies here versus SMEs is growing.

NSAI Senior Standards Officer Paul Killeen believes the launch of the Standard and the Innovation Excellence programme will help Ireland address the SME productivity and competitiveness challenges outlined in the OECD report.

“The new ISO series of guidance standards on Innovation Management, developed by innovation experts from across the world, provides international best practice on the systematic management of innovation activities in organisations of all types, including SMEs.

The standard provides practical tools and methods, on how SMEs can effectively and consistently deliver new products and services to their customers on an ongoing basis.”

The Innovation Excellence Programme has been designed by Skillnet Ireland in partnership with NSAI and is based on the foundation of best practice outlined in the new ISO 56000 family of standards.

Chief Technologist at Skillnet Ireland Mark Jordan says the introduction of the new ISO guidance standard will lay down some best practices for testing theories, measuring impact, and executing the ideas that bring true innovation to life.

“The Innovation Excellence Programme will deliver the necessary tools, skills, and working practices directly into Irish business - developing a process and platform for the generation of new ideas and strategies. This programme will allow companies to become more creative and impactful in their approach to solving business challenges.

At Skillnet Ireland, we see a future of intense change, and innovation will be at the core of everything we do. We are delighted to support this collaborative initiative, which will facilitate the connections that propel people and companies to find new ways to thrive in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.”


ISO 56002:2019 Innovation Management System – Guidance provides guidance for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and continual improvement of an innovation management system for use in all established organisations.

Paul Killeen, Standards Development, is the key contact for ISO 56002 at the National Standards Authority of Ireland.

The standard is available on You can read more about this standard in the information leaflet.