Starting in FP7 and more broadly applied in Horizon 2020, the European Commission is supporting a group of innovation initiatives supporting SMEs and mid-caps across the economy in digital value creation. The formula for success is the collaboration of industrial actors across the complete value chain in a large number of small experiments facilitated by Europe’s leading competence centres. By going broad both in terms of applications and in terms of actors (e.g. SMEs and mid-caps both on provider and user side), this scheme is an important means for putting Europe’s industrial renaissance on a more solid foundation.

The major initiatives are “ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs” (I4MS), supporting largely process innovation, and “Smart Anything Everywhere” (SAE), supporting product and service innovation:

  • ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS) is addressing process innovation through digital technologies such as simulation, modelling and data-analytics; robotics; advanced lasers and smart sensors; cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). Launched in July 2013 in the context of the Factories of the Future contractual Public-Private Partnership (FoF cPPP), with 7 large innovation projects and an initial budget of 77M€, I4MS has proven to be on the right track towards helping SMEs and mid-caps step ahead in digital technologies. Currently 40 competence centres in 17 Member States, 150 experiments and 150 SMEs or mid-caps are participating in I4MS.
  • Smart Anything Everywhere (SAE) is supporting product and service innovation through digital technologies. Clustered in four projects with a total budget of 25M€, 23 of Europe’s leading competence centres in the components and systems value chain across 11 Member States will start from January 2015 to support 100 user-supplier experiments with 200 SMEs and mid-caps. Currently, Smart Anything Everywhere constitutes projects selected under ICT1 and ICT2 of Work Programme 2014/15.

The innovation actions called for in 2015 under topics ICT4 (customised and low power computing) and FoF9 (I4MS phase 2) are also foreseen to be part respectively of the Smart Anything Everywhere (SAE) and the ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS) initiatives. These innovation actions aim at stimulating broad adoption of novel embedded and cyber-physical systems technologies and their enablers in industrial and societal applications important for Europe.  In the context of FoF9 they also aim at the uptake of advanced ICT technologies like simulation and cloud computing by manufacturing SMEs.

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