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ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS)


Specific challenge: For Europe's competitiveness in manufacturing, it is crucial that advances in ICT are taken up in engineering and manufacturing ""at large"" as soon as they have the appropriate maturity level.

Scope: As Phase 2[1] of I4MS this objective addresses the adoption of the next generation of ICT advances in the manufacturing domain. Focus is on emerging innovative technologies and processes, which need to be customised, integrated, tested and validated before being released on the market. Special emphasis is on strengthening European SMEs along the value chain by adopting new concepts and business models based on servitisation, for product operation, or for end-of-life use.

Two types of innovation experiments are supported: Driven by the requirements of first-time users, Application Experiments bring together all actors of the value chain and experts necessary to equip new users with novel products or services and assist them in customising and applying these in their respective environments. In Equipment Assessment Experiments, suppliers of innovative high-tech equipment install and assess their prototypes or products in production-like environments and validate them in a manufacturing line or in an industrial environment that is very close to manufacturing conditions.

Activities are expected to be clustered in larger projects to achieve critical mass and to better exploit EU-added value. Common tasks include: targeted dissemination; management of calls for new actions; exploitation of synergies across actions.

The action may involve financial support to third parties, in line with the conditions set out in part K of the General Annexes. The consortium will define the selection process of additional users and suppliers running the experiments for which financial support will be granted (typically in the order of EUR 50 000 – 150 000[2] per party). Maximum 50% of the EU funding should be allocated to this purpose.


a.      Three areas of technologies are targeted for the Innovation actions::

  •             Highly flexible and near-autonomous robotics systems (application experiments).
  •             HPC Cloud-based modelling, simulation and analytics services for modelling multiple interconnected phenomena; for integrating multiple tools across the process chain; for exploiting the dynamic availability of ""big data""; for integrating novel mobile interfaces for data management and decision support; for achieving real-time response (application experiments), and addressing comprehensively security and privacy issues at all levels.
  •             Integration of Cyber-Physical-System modules in manufacturing processes and process chains (application or assessment experiments) to increase sophistication and automation in production SMEs and to create novel value added services linked to process surveillance and maintenance.

For this topic, experiment descriptions should include an outline of the initial exploitation plan and business scenario, which will be developed further in the proposed experiment.

b.      Support actions: network of Innovation multipliers leveraging investment in research and innovation is to be reinforced:

To advance the European I4MS innovation ecosystem: The aim is to achieve broad coverage in technological, application, innovation, and geographic terms. Its tasks and services shall include maintaining a single innovation portal for newcomers; sharing of best practices and experiences; dissemination; brokering between users and suppliers in view of open calls; leveraging further investment by stimulating replication, by brokering access to venture capital or other private investment, and by exploiting regional funds in the context of the European strategy on ""Smart Specialisation"".

Expected impact:

  •             Attract a significant number of new users of advanced ICT in the manufacturing sector, in particular SMEs and the mid-caps.
  •             More innovative and competitive technology suppliers, in particular SMEs, both on the level of ICT and on the level of manufacturing equipment, able to supply manufacturers with new equipment, components, and tools for improved manufacturing and engineering operations.
  •             More competitive European service providers through provisioning of new types of services; through strengthening the presence on local markets.
  •             Exploration of new application areas for advanced ICT in manufacturing at large.

Types of action:

a.             Innovation Actions. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 8 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. It is expected that a minimum of one innovation action is supported for each area of technologies.

b.            Coordination and Support Actions

[1] Information of Phase 1 available in

[2] In line with Article 23 (7) of the Rules for Participation the amounts referred to in Article 137 of the Financial Regulation may be exceeded where it is necessary to achieve the objectives of the action.