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Expos of the doctoral project Dusan Cvetanovic

RESEARCH QUESTION: WHICH INNOVATIONS OF PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES CAN IMPROVE THE ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY OF HEALTHCARE AND REHABILITATION ORGANIZATIONS FOR THE TREATMENT OF DERMATOLOGY AND VENEREAL DISEASES IN LUNEBURG DISTRICT? Small and medium-sized enterprises have been playing an important role in the economic development of market economies over the past twenty years. The affirmation of small and medium-sized enterprises linked to innovative incubators within the scientific research and educational organizations such as universities, has become one of the most important priorities in the development of numerous countries and regions. However, the problem is that there still exists a large gap between the results of scientific research and specific advice on particular government interventions aimed at supporting the development of highly innovative small and medium enterprises. If innovations help small and medium enterprises improve their product and service assortment, it means that there is a positive relationship between the number of innovations and development dynamics of small and medium enterprises located in a specific territory. The implementation of innovations also has the function of improving the quality of product and service offer and of all profit and non-profit economic entities operating in a particular geographic area. Since the providing of healthcare services in the treatment of dermatology and venereal diseases has a significant role in the economic and social development of Luneburg District, it is reasonable to expect that the innovations of products and processes originally generated in the Innovation Center of Luneburg District, contributing to the improvement of healthcare and rehabilitation service offer, may have a positive impact on business performance of healthcare and rehabilitation facilities in this area, and thus on the overall economic development of the District. Therefore, the innovations under discussion are essentially non-medical and not directly interrelated to medical research applied in healthcare and rehabilitation services. Economic growth in certain regions in the contemporary economic setting is founded on the concentration of innovative companies that continually invest in the development of new technologies and products, while keeping very close mutual relations, as well as the relations with involved parties in the region. For that reason, the research must thoroughly grasp the nature of the regional preconditions for the promotion of innovations. The challenge is even more conspicuous in the context of the imperative of reducing the growing imbalances in economic development of particular regions. Namely, it is evident that the acting of highly innovative small and medium enterprises in a particular area is closely related to the populations structure of education and qualifications and that the majority of such organizations is closely associated with innovative incubators at universities.

Healthcare - spa tourism and healthcare and rehabilitation services represent a crucial lever of economic development of the District of Luneburg. This sector may have a network impact on other economic activities in the district. So, if the efficiency of healthcare - spa organizations is increased, the performance of other non-profit and profit organizations in the entire district could receive a positive impact. The key for increasing the efficiency of profit and non-profit organizations lies in product and service innovations generated in innovative incubators, scientific institutions at universities and companies. It is therefore of utmost importance to scan the degree i.e. level of innovativeness of these organizations. Measured parameters of innovativeness (number of proprietary solutions, the share of researchers in the overall structure of employees, etc.) should be compared to the identical ones in benchmarking entities in the region of Lower Saxony and preferably with entities in Germany as a whole. I am of the opinion that it is possible to provide this information despite the fact that it is a comprehensive benchmark study. It is of great importance to take into consideration all the instruments and measures of regional policy for the support of the development of small and medium enterprises. Due to its current importance a question arises which institutions in the district, region and on the state level influence, direct and support the economic development of the district. Bearing in mind that the focus of the research includes healthcare-rehabilitation centers on one hand and the development of small and medium enterprises on the other, it is particularly important to examine which regional and industrial policies support this economic sector. In initiating of the economic development of the district, the immense role and highly significant place belongs to Innovative incubator of Leuphana University. This means that the innovativeness of small and medium-sized enterprises in the observed area is largely a direct function of applying the results of research - development activities in the Innovative incubator of Leuphana University. Furthermore, this means that growing innovativeness of small and medium-sized enterprises of the district may be important for the improving of business activities of other profit and non-profit organizations, including healthcare and rehabilitation organizations as well. The improvement of the services rendered by the above organizations means the increasing number of patients, better sales of consumer goods, better working restaurants, etc. Research Objectives The primary objective of this survey is to, based on the results of theoretical and empirical research, establish the level of innovativeness of small and medium enterprises and provide a comprehensive insight into their importance for the economic development of the district of Luneburg. Achieved research objectives include: a) Explicit specification of problems and limitations for achieving of desired level of innovativeness and possible approaches to the realization of innovation strategies in companies of the Luneburg District,

b) Comprehensive analysis of measures and activities undertaken by the organs of regional and sub-regional development policies and programs as well as the organs of innovation incentive polices for small and medium enterprises on the district, regional and state level, c) Overview of nature and character of support given by certain social institutions in the aim of the enhancement of innovativeness of small and medium enterprises in the Luneburg District. Special emphasis shall be given to small and medium enterprises innovations in the analyzed region, which so far have not been adequately recognized and utilized for the enrichment of offer and reduction of costs in other companies of the Luneburg District, the potential of which for the improvement of business efficiency is highly significant. Based on appropriate statistic and economic analysis measures and techniques the following shall be examined: Link between innovativeness of small and medium enterprises and economic efficiency enhancement of treatment of dermatology and venereal diseases (especially psoriasis) and Factual and potential influence of innovative products and processes created in the Innovation incubator of Leuphana University on economic growth of Luneburg District.

Basic hypothesis used as starting point in the research H1: The key factor of enhancement of competitiveness and sustainable development of certain districts and regions, and decrease of regional divergences in the contemporary business environment are innovations, in the widest sense. H2: Utilization of different types of innovations of products and processes is potentially of great significance for economic efficiency growth of both profit and not-profit organizations providing services, which are dominant in the modern economy structure. H3: The offer of healthcare services, even in areas where it is necessary to possess an abundance of specific natural resources (high concentration of salt Luneburg brine1 ), as is the case in this district) can be significantly improved by numerous incremental innovative products and processes of non-medical nature. H4: Enriched offer of service for treatment of dermatology and venereal diseases due to its share in the creation of gross product in the region of survey can contribute to quicker economic growth of the Luneburg Distinct and also to the decrease of development divergences in the region of Lower Saxony.

Luneburg Salt Thermal Baths (contain around 25% of salt) are especially used for the treatment of psoriasis. 3