Specific challenge: The challenge is to develop new cross-sectoral industrial value chains across the EU, by building upon the innovation potential of SMEs. The EU needs to support the development of emerging industries, which will provide the growth and employment of the future. The reindustrialisation of the EU's industrial base has to focus on the development of long-term internationally competitive goods and services that require combining different competences and innovative solutions. The development of new industrial value chains calls for the collaboration and integration of different innovation actors, including large enterprises and especially SMEs, across different sectors towards the implementation of a joint vision.
SMEs need help to generate, take up and better capitalise on all forms of knowledge, creativity, craftsmanship and innovation – including for the application of existing cross-cutting or emerging technologies, ICT, eco-innovative and resource-efficient solutions, new business models, service innovation and design. The potential of clusters, that represent favourable ecosystems for innovation, need to be better exploited in this respect.
Scope: Cross-border and cross-sectoral collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship across different regions and value chains shall be promoted. The coordination and facilitation shall be led by cluster organisations and other intermediary organisations, by following a systemic approach that combines different resources, tools and instruments. Innovation actors, especially SMEs with mutually reinforcing competences, shall be supported in view of creating new industrial value chains that foster the development of emerging industries in Europe.
To this end, proposals shall outline a strategic vision for building new industrial value chains across the EU and Associated Countries. They shall specifically focus on integrating and supporting groups of SMEs in collaboration with other innovation actors in addressing specific problems and challenges. Cluster organisations or other SME intermediaries shall be invited to set up collaboration and networking activities for SMEs and create a favourable ""open space"" for cross-sectoral fertilisation and value chain innovation to take place. Each proposal should demonstrate the capacity to:
1) validate ideas for structured innovation projects driven by SMEs from different sectors and countries in collaboration with other innovation actors and facilitate the coordination towards new industrial value chains through this collaboration space.
2) support innovation activities and/or channel a mix of different targeted entrepreneurial and innovation support measures (such as mentoring, coaching, innovation and technical assistance vouchers, etc.) directly to the innovation actors of the validated innovation projects to further support their development, integration and large-scale demonstration in a strategic manner. At least 75% of the total proposed budget shall be allocated to support innovation in SMEs directly.
Further background information on the systemic approach and strategic focus to be envisaged, will be provided to applicants. Synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds that may further support such large-scale demonstration projects will also be actively encouraged, notably through the engaged SME intermediaries. “Large-scale” does not necessarily refer to the amount of financial support provided for a particular project but to the extent of the roll-out of a staged process of experimentation and implementation with accompanying support that reaches out to groups of mutually reinforcing SMEs. This approach aims at “demonstrating at large scale” the potential impact of innovative solutions to specific challenges, rather than supporting isolated projects or SMEs.
The Commission considers that proposal requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2.5 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Strengthen industrial leadership in the EU and Associated Countries by reinforcing value chains that integrate innovative solutions in SMEs, along and across existing value chains.
Stimulate the creation of new globally competitive industrial value chains across the EU and Associated Countries to accelerate the development of emerging industries, which will boost industrial competitiveness and underpin future economic growth, jobs, and progress towards a resource-efficient economy.
- Further leverage and complement support for innovation in SMEs and other funding, which may be provided by national or regional authorities (including under the European Structural and Investment Funds) and/or by private investors (upfront or as follow-up investments).
- Contribute to regional smart specialisation strategies by capitalising upon concentrated and complementary competences for the development of new industrial value chains and emerging industries with a clear EU added-value.
- Provide a clear and measurable contribution to the innovation performance of the supported SMEs in the short-term – as revealed by indicators such as numbers of new or significantly improved products (goods and/or services), processes, new marketing methods, or new organisational methods –, and to its impact on resource efficiency and/or turnover. A wider impact is also expected in the medium-term.
- Improve the business environment of the supported SMEs by establishing open collaboration spaces that can involve innovation actors from different sectors and countries. This will lead to the creation of new ideas for innovation and new collaboration partnerships, which will be subject of further development and with the potential for further impact on business turnover.
Type of action: Innovation actions
 Information (e.g. results from ongoing studies and expert analyses) will be made available via a dedicated web-site on EUROPA (http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/index_en.htm)