With innovation at the forefront of the drive for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, it follows that innovation support and training should be focussed on the micro sector. However, innovation policy and practice -at EU and national level- is still dominated by the conventional R&D model, involving high investment in hi-technology. Although suitable for large companies, especially in industry and manufacturing, this is not viable for most micro-enterprises given their acute financial constraints and ongoing low levels of consumer spending across Europe.

Lean innovation offers an alternative route to innovation; a cost-effective, low-tech approach, it prioritises design thinking and agile experimentation to generate value-maximizing products and services, thus helping small businesses grow in spite of their economic conditions. In addition, unlike traditional innovation, which is resource dependent, lean innovation is a knowledge and skills based approach and so vocational training organizations can play a key role in developing these skills.