Skip to main content

Empowering European Aeronautical SMEs to Participate in EU Research

Final Report Summary - SME-AERO-POWER (Empowering European Aeronautical SMEs to Participate in EU Research)

Executive Summary:
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other Small Organisations (SOs) are often the hotbed of innovation but harnessing the potential to drive the European Aerospace business forward in line with EU Framework Programmes is a challenging task.
SME-AERO-POWER project (started 1 July 2011 and finished 30 September 2013 after 27 months) aimed at tackling the shortfall in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Small Organisations (SOs) participation in innovative collaborations with industry primes and FP7/H2020 projects, by examining methods for improvement and engaging them into such projects.
Examining and mapping the past efforts, projects, initiatives and chain of networks, led in particular to three lines of actions: a) integrate with and maximise existing assets within the marketplace and from former related projects; b) offer new activity that augments and extends what is already being undertaken; and c) accelerate and broaden the range and number of SMEs/SOs participating in collaboration projects desired by industry primes
Further on, this led to a suggested process that is based on community building around "hot topics". The community is established around "PEER-AERO-NET" concept, which is actually a smaller group of leading bodies and related people that steer the community and its relations with both the internal and external environment. It is the intention and expectation that PEER-AERO-NET will continue to exist and strive after the project is ended and by that provides continuation and self-sustainability. "Hot Topics" were suggested as the professional bond between the community members. They provide the grounds for mutual interest and potential collaborations between the community members, and not less important, as means to draw the attention and attract new members to the growing community, including the expansion of PEER-AERO-NET.
Selected operational objectives of the process were: a) support SMEs & SOs in identifying innovation opportunities and building international teams & consortia particularly around topics that are significant to aerospace Primes; b) identify the critical issues with respect to long term research within aerospace-related and also non-related SMEs/SOs and resolving them where possible; c) increase participation from SMEs & SOs in countries that are in deficit in terms of participation in European Research Area; and, d) support SMEs & SOs to participate in proposals with a centre of gravity towards SMEs, thus encouraging SMEs to be initiators of proposals rather than just being sidekicks and followers.

To realise these objectives, the project executed, in parallel, three inter-connected sub-processes:
1. Mobilisation of SMEs/SOs: attract relevant innovative and research-intensive SMEs/SOs from sectors relevant to Aeronautic Technologies and assist them to get involved in either self-defined research activities in the FP7/H2020 Aeronautics Theme.
2. Coaching and Self-realisation for SME & SOs intermediaries: with two methodologies that were integrated, one is a formal structured coaching methodology plus a narrative-based self-realisation process with qualitative and quantitative output of SME/Prime innovation "enablers and barriers" and clearer understanding of “hot topics”.
3. Competence Development: with a solid backbone of the PEER-AERO-NET that will coordinate the activities of a Learning Community to firstly achieve the quantified targets of the project and secondly lay the foundation for self-sustainability.

Project Context and Objectives:
Examining and mapping the past efforts, projects, initiatives and chain of networks, led in particular to three lines of actions: a) integrate with and maximise existing assets within the marketplace and from former related projects; b) offer new activity that augments and extends what is already being undertaken; and c) accelerate and broaden the range and number of SMEs/SOs participating in collaboration projects desired by industry primes
Further on, this led to a suggested process that is based on community building around "hot topics". The community is established around "PEER-AERO-NET" concept, which is actually a smaller group of leading bodies and related people that steer the community and its relations with both the internal and external environment. It is the intention and expectation that PEER-AERO-NET will continue to exist and strive after the project is ended and by that provides continuation and self-sustainability. "Hot Topics" were suggested as the professional bond between the community members. They provide the grounds for mutual interest and potential collaborations between the community members, and not less important, as means to draw the attention and attract new members to the growing community, including the expansion of PEER-AERO-NET.

The objectives of the process were:
1) Support SMEs & SOs in identifying innovation opportunities and building international teams & consortia particularly around topics that are significant to aerospace Primes;
2) Identify the critical issues with respect to long term research within aerospace-related and also non-related SMEs/SOs and resolving them where possible;
3) Support SMEs & SOs to recognise FP7 and H2020 call opportunities, prepare for and submit well-conceived research proposals;
4) Increase participation from SMEs & SOs in countries that are in deficit in terms of participation in European Research Area;
5) Support SMEs & SOs to participate in proposals with a centre of gravity towards SMEs, thus encouraging SMEs to be initiators of proposals rather than just being sidekicks and followers;
6) Create a greater incidence of pan-European clusters to expand opportunity that is limited by a strong focus on regional or national clusters;
7) Increase awareness & participation of SMEs & SOs in sustainable development programmes, like the greening programme Clean Sky;
8) Create a sustainable project-derived organisation, to provide ongoing feedback to the European Commission on tackling critical issues and hot topics.

The objectives were followed by a strategic three level approaches and working towards the overall project vision of improving and widening the inclusion of SMEs/SOs in innovative collaborations with primes and in Framework bids. Namely, the project executed , in parallel, three inter-connected sub-processes, which are:

1. Mobilisation of SMEs/SOs: to attract relevant innovative and research-intensive SMEs/SOs from sectors relevant to Aeronautic Technologies (existing or encouraged to spin-in) and assist them to get involved in either self-defined research activities in the Framework Programmes (e.g. FP7 or H2020) Aeronautics Theme. There is considerable scope for commercial research/innovation to be utilised within the civil/defence aero-industries through industry cross-fertilisation by SME/SOs. Finding resolutions with primes on their ’hot topics’ or to take a more substantial part in relevant research proposals of the Theme. This was realised through targeted awareness measures, also through cooperation with other relevant initiatives, leading to creation of trans-national Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) largely involving SMEs & SOs (but also other relevant players and stakeholders) that focus on specific subsectors and specialities.
Where possible, key stakeholders from National Technical Committees and similar were invited to play moderation and stimulation roles. The NCPs within our consortium have a strong track record of mobilising SMEs & SOs within their regions and thus were invaluable in the process. Industry based networks links with European Innovation Programmes further extend the scope.
The proposed Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) enabled the project to classify the mobilised SMEs/SOs according to their specific interest in research and become manageable units with common denominators that enable stimulation of intra-SIG interactions that are required in order to encourage and promote more FP-related activities. These thematically focused SIGs provide a virtual open environment where, for example, a SME can initiate project consortia and get coaching and guidance towards a new innovation project.
Thus trans-national cooperation between SMEs & SOs was promoted, along with shared research needs and identification of potential collaboration partners plus creative ideas for new innovations developed within ”Booster” problem-solving workshops. This combination of idea generation and debate has been shown from our experience to give rise to new opportunities on global markets and to stimulate joint action in the preparation of SME driven R&D projects. SME-AERO-POWER proposed to mobilise around 400 relevant SMEs/SOs all over Europe including at least 100 from New Member States.

Among the specific interest topics, we suggested to include:
• The greening of air transport both in emissions management and improved body and propulsion design;
• A step-change in aviation provision in order to accommodate the projected growth of three times more aircraft movements requiring more efficient ATM systems in Europe through the SESAR initiative ensuring customer satisfaction and safety;
• Introducing a quantum leap in passenger choice and schedule flexibility, whilst achieving a five-fold reduction in accident rate;
• Improving cost efficiency: Fostering a competitive supply chain able to halve the time-to-market, and reduce product development and operational costs including improved simulation abilities and automation, lean aircraft and zero maintenance protection of aircraft and passengers. Pioneering the air transport of the future;
• Security aspects of airspace management and airport operations;
• Exploring more radical, environmentally efficient, accessible and innovative technologies to facilitate the step change required in the second half of this century.

These topics were based on the initial classification done for the purpose of defining SIGs and are priorities indicated in the literature and road mapping surveys conducted with the industry. The SIGs are just intra-project manageable virtual groups that are built around a common denominator (relevant Specific Interest). The encouragement of SMEs/SOs and other members of the SIG to get actively involved in FP-related activities was done according to the relevant research topics that appeared in the FP7 Aeronautics Theme Work Programme, especially open Calls for Proposals. To help high-tech SMEs/SOs overcome their barriers to research and to develop their collaboration opportunities the project mobilised them through a series of Regional Awareness and Self Realisation Workshops and other means, as well as involving them in SIGs built around their specific needs and interests and shared as "Hot Topics" for the aerospace Primes.

2. Coaching and Self realization for SME & SOs intermediaries: two methodologies were integrated. A formal structured coaching methodology plus a narrative-based self realization process with qualitative and quantitative output of SME/prime innovation "enablers and barriers” (crucial factors to the participants) and clearer understanding of “Hot Topics”. Ways to develop the enablers and reduce the barriers can then be developed through the application of "Booster" techniques. Innovation coaching, Narratives and Booster workshops assisted the drive through from mobilization to competent partnering. The main aims of this sub-process were:
• To develop the Innovation Coaches from SME & SO Intermediaries - like National Contact Points, Innovation Relay Centres, industrial incubators, professional associations and other intermediaries (e.g. EU funded initiatives such as AEROPortal) - for continuous improvement of their innovation support services towards SMEs/SOs active in the Aeronautic Technology sector.
• To add a further dimension to the ways in which opportunity and hidden talent can be drawn out and ignited by a narrative-based knowledge ecology approach. This Community, integrated with the network established in the mobilization layer described above is defined as "PEER-AERO-NET". The PEER-AERO-NET started from representatives of the project consortium members. It is a network for the trans-national transfer of best practices and the provision of peer-to-peer mentoring. The PEER-AERO-NET provides the vehicle to achieve the project’s primary mission in the long-run and therefore its constitution is a central focus of the project. The project will run dedicated workshops for coaching intermediaries active in the aeronautic field. PEER-AERO-NET is expected to expand after the end of the Project to an increasingly pan-European scale.

3. Competence Development: expected participants of the expanded PEER-AERO-NET are expected to be innovation coaches and R&D enablers of established SME intermediaries that offer personalised and continual innovation support coaching and awareness rising. As the job-profile of an Innovation Coach is continually expanding in its scope and capability, its practitioners are always on the look-out for new and proven methodologies and opportunities to implement know-how. Working in isolation even as regional well networked hub or information point still hinders the full development and application of international best-practices, especially in an extremely knowledge-intensive service like innovation coaching. These hurdles are overcome through the PEER-AERO-NET approach:
• A shared Best Practice Reference Process is just one of the explicit expressions of the benefits of a learning Community of Practice on a European expert level. Thus the PEER-AERO-NET was resourced to continually grow in quality in the fulfilment of its purpose of identifying, disseminating and implementing best practices of ways to improve the participation of SMEs/ SME groupings proactive in the entire Aeronautic arena in research and innovative collaboration.
• The project ran dedicated workshops for coaching PEER-AERO-NET members, so to prepare for the expected expansion to an increasingly scale.
• The project laid out unique observations and findings that can be useful for the European Commission in designing future Framework Programmes and topics for funding.

Project Results:
The SME-AERO-POWER Project ran three sub-processes in parallel and a loop of evaluation and feedback in addition. They are described below.
1. The Mobilisation Process: through a series of Regional Awareness Workshops, this process reached relevant innovative and research-intensive SMEs/SOs and mobilises them, i.e. attract them to introduce themselves and to take an active part in the Project (starting from registration at the Projects website, through to participation in SIGs that can lead to more FP7 Aerospace Theme-related activities.

The activities and derived outcomes of this process were:
• Raising awareness via direct mailings and other means, using the existing networks of links of specific partners with inherent skill.
• Trying to form contacts and collaborations with relevant existing initiatives that already succeeded to attract SMEs/SOs and increase their activities in FP7 & future Aerospace Theme (e.g. AeroPortal, ESA and other initiatives).
• Performing Regional Awareness Workshops, challenging hundreds of relevant SMEs/SOs and possible other stakeholders in addition.
• Forming Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) that served as a common denominator and enable the moderation of this group towards increasing the participating SMEs/SOs FP7/H2020 Aerospace Theme-related activities.
• Maintaining and nurturing SIGs in order to encouraging SME driven discussions and intra-SIG activities such as project-driven groups (potential consortia) around relevant open FP7/H2020 Aerospace Theme topics.

2. Coaching for SME Intermediaries: the process of coaching SMEs/SOs in their FP7/H2020 related activities requires skills and experience. On one hand it requires sufficient understanding of the general scientific arena of the Aerospace Theme in general. Yet, this understanding alone is not enough and there is also a strong need to know the rules of participating in FP7/H2020 and preferably have enough previous experience to be able to guide and mentor. This combination of skills is not often common to find in one person. This is the point where the SME-AERO-POWER coaching process is helping by bridging knowledge gaps. This process coached individuals who are interested to serve as SME intermediaries. Not only knowledge is shared, but also personal acquaintance and trust is gained in the group that allows fluent communication among the intermediaries, thus creating the ground to sharing Best Practices, different experiences and enable collaborations. This coaching is valuable and viable and creates a job-profile of Cooperation Coach that strengthens the position of the SME Intermediaries. This process itself created the PEER-AERO-NET and blended the different experiences, knowledge and backgrounds into a more coherent infrastructure that can be further replicated after project execution in order to enable the expansion of the PEER-AERO-NET.
The planned activities and desired outcomes of this process were:
• Establish the core PEER-AERO-NET network of individuals, comprised from named individuals representing the partners’ organisations.
• Perform Training Workshops within PEER-AERO-NET (train the trainer) with the participation of all members in the network.
• Encourage and perform Peer-to-Peer collaboration interactions within PEER-AERO-NET. By interactions we mean a PEER-AERO-NET member getting professional assistance/guidance from another PEER-AERO-NET member in conjunction with project activities.
• Run Narrative Based Workshops.

3. Competence Development: this sub-process was designated to achieving the cohesiveness of the proposed project concept and for fulfilling the vision of PEER-AERO-NET as a Learning Community. The role of the process is to combine the outcomes of the first two processes and coordinate the efforts towards increasing the mobilised SMEs/SOs FP7/H2020 Aerospace Theme-related activities. It is created as a separate process because of the difference in skills and competence that is required for the job and that differs from the individual work done in the mobilisation and coaching individuals. This process undertook to handle cross-project activities and therefore had a full and systematic view of the activities done in the project across the board, in order to pick the best cases to become Best Practice cases, or to handle the overall dissemination activities of the consortium as a whole.
The planned activities and desired outcomes of this process are:
• Run further Innovation Coaching Workshops primarily with SMEs/SOs;
• Run Booster workshops;
• Identify Best Practice cases and knowledge to share amongst the PEER-AERO-NET;
• Encourage SME driven FP7/H2020 Aerospace Theme-related activity;
• Coordinate the overall dissemination activities of the Project;
• Coordinate the activities of the Evaluation process and implement the conclusions in the on-going work;
• Provide relevant documents and experienced FP7-related support/knowledge to every process/task that needs it;
• Maintain close contact with the SIGs moderators and assist them in their information needs, provide guidance and professional advice;
• Try to obtain and provide the consortium and especially SIG moderators with digested information (pubic and non-public) that serves the purpose of increasing the SMEs/SOs activities in FP7 and upcoming H2020 Aerospace Themes;
• Coordinate the PEER-to-PEER collaborations interactions done at consortium level;
• Coordinate the Evaluation and Feedback process.

For each of the sub-processes and tasks were developed measures that enabled to prove concrete feedback on the tasks performed. The Competence Development process was responsible for collecting the feedback that the evaluation task provided and make sure that future iterations of similar activities are performed more efficiently and with better results. By making the evaluation task coherent and embedded in the activities, we have had a continuous on-the-fly improvement of the processes.
The idea is that each partner will participate, collaborate and contribute in more than one process (at least two and up to four). When this occurs the internal interactions gain in efficiency and the cohesiveness of the entire Project is improved.
The work was organised in manageable units, which are the work packages (WP or WPs). They were logically configured around and according to the objectives of the project. Namely, these were:

• WP1 Project Management: overall management activities ensuring a successful realisation of the Project.
• WP2 Mobilisation of SMEs & SOs: the first pillar of the project that creates strong links with SMEs/SOs that the project is going to collaborate with.
• WP3 Coaching for SME & SOs Intermediaries (the PEER-AERO-NET): the second pillar of the project that sets the collaborative framework plus the technological and conceptual infrastructure for the emerging Community of Practice as a solid basis for ongoing PEER-to-PEER interaction.
• WP4 Nurturing the community using SIGs & clustering methods: the third pillar combines the outcomes of WP2 and WP3 and coordinates efforts towards increasing SME capabilities for participation in FP7/H2020, larger calls and other Aerospace Theme activities plus SME/prime collaborations. The Tasks then move on to creating viable collaborations through associations in the SIGs and the PEER-AERO-NET
• WP5 Dissemination Visibility and Self-Sustained Activity: Ensure the visibility within the Aerospace marketplace from the industrial the policy making and service provider standpoint. The sustainability plan will also be developed within this workpackage. It links very closely to WP2, WP3 and WP4.


Main S&T results:
The table below summarises the measurable objectives that were achieved in throughout the project duration:

Status Measurable Objectives WP
v Raise awareness about the project & its activities 2
v Form collaborations with other initiatives (see WP4) 2
v Performed 19 Regional Awareness Workshops 2
v Initiated 8 Specific Interest Groups based on hot topics identified 2
v Establishing the PEER-AERO-NET network and nurturing it 3
v Performed 5 Training Workshops within PEER-AERO-NET 3
v More than 30 PEER-to-PEER collaboration interactions have taken place 3
v Efforts to integrate within key Aerospace networks (e.g. ETNA and the other networks) 4
v Creation of an association within European initiatives (construction of a protocol of cooperation & memorandum of understanding with 3 service providers with mutual recognition) 4
v FP7/H2020 Information Centre 4
v Competence Development & Opportunity Recognition (more than 5 workshops across 5 countries have been organised) 4
v Development of Pan European Clusters 4
v Web presence Design, Creation & Maintenance (website and other online means) 5
v Dissemination Material & Activities 5
v Dissemination events (see detailed information in the specific section) 5
v Produced extensive deliverable on creating sound preconditions for a Living Lab 5
v PEER-AERO-NET Self-Sustained Activities are planned 5

Deliverables:
Each work package produced a number of deliverables, summarising their activity and results.
Following are tables containing the lists of deliverables produced in each of the work packages, as well as a summary of the selected results and achievements made in each, where relevant.

WP1 - Project Management
Deliverable N° Title Lead beneficiary Nature Dissemination level Project Month Actual Delivery date
D1.1 Project Presentation AEL Report PU 2 27-Oct-2011
D1.2 Management Plan BTL Report CO 4 12-Dec-2011
D1.3 Periodic report BTL Report CO 12 9-Oct-2012
D1.4 Final report BTL Report PU 27


WP2 - Mobilisation of SMEs & SOs
Deliverable N° Title Lead beneficiary Nature Dissemination level Project Month Actual Delivery date
D2.1 Awareness Workshop Content APRE Report CO 4 6-Nov-2011
D2.2 Critical Issues identification - part 1 AcUAS Report PU 10 31-May-2012
D2.4 Report on SIG activities - part 1 APRE Report RE 12 31-Jul-2012
D2.6 Critical Issues identification - part 2 AcUAS Report PU 16 31-Oct-2012
D2.8 Report on SIG activities - part 2 APRE Report RE 18 3-Jun-2013
D2.7 Critical Issues identification - part 3 AcUAS Report PU 20 24-Feb-2013
D2.3 Report on Awareness Workshops APRE Report CO 27 24/10/2013
D2.5 Best Practice Guide APRE Report PU 27 30/10/2013

(D2.3 Awareness Workshops)
Given the considerable scope for commercial research/innovation existing within the civil aero-industries, SME-AERO-POWER worked toward the creation of a platform for SME/SOs to carry on collaborative research in the aeronautical and air transport field. The project encouraged them to engage in an open discussion related to aeronautics and air transport initiatives, to identify ‘hot topics’ and to take a more substantial part in the submission of proposals for the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), ultimately aiming at enhancing their business competitiveness and research achievements.
In support of this objective, SAP has adopted a targeted approach based on selected measures such as the Regional Awareness Workshops, conceived as ideal platforms to showcase SAP’s own initiatives and other air transport-related research projects initiated both outside and under the project’s auspices. As foreseen by the Work Package 2 and in line with the main objective of SAP, that is to attract relevant innovative and research-intensive Aeronautics SMEs and small organizations, 19 Awareness Workshops have been organized following the guidelines set in the deliverable D2.1.

(D2.7 Critical Issues Identification)
This task's main activities were-
• Analyse the current productions in the research fields in the technological, business and administrative areas.
• Identification of hot topics by consulting research results from the EU FP which meets SME´s needs.
• Collaborate with existing service providers to the aerospace industry to keep the project focusing on the current issues.
• Maintain close watch of the SMEs, especially those from EU12 and collect their critical issues.
• Identification of technological needs and innovative ideas that could be transformed into proposals.
• Prepare the structure and material for task T-2.4 for the identification of existing SIGs.
• Make the PEER-AERO-NET aware of those hot issues for visibility purpose.

Following that, a list of critical issues was identified and laid out (see Appendix 1 – Critical Issues Identified). This list was re-examined and validated throughout the project and therefore we think that it represents a relevant and important observation that might be of use in the future by the next Framework Programme.

WP3 - Coaching for SME & SOs Intermediaries (the PEER-AERO-NET)
Deliverable N° Title Lead beneficiary Nature Dissemination level Project Month Actual Delivery date
D3.1 Report on PEER-AERO-NET Creation - part 1 IPPT PAN Report CO 6 9-Feb-2012
D3.5 PEER-AERO-NET Code of Conduct IPPT PAN Report RE 24 26-Mar-2012
D3.3 PEER-AERO-NET Directory - part 1 IPPT PAN Demonstrator PU 12 25-Jul-2012
D3.2 Report on Coaching Process and PEER-to-PEER interactions - part 1 IPPT PAN Report CO 12 7-Aug-2012
D3.6 Report on PEER-AERO-NET Creation - part 2 IPPT PAN Report CO 27 16/11/2013
D3.7 Report on Coaching Process and PEER-to-PEER interactions - part 2 IPPT PAN Report CO 27 16/11/2013
D3.8 PEER-AERO-NET Directory - part 2 IPPT PAN Demonstrator PU 27 16/11/2013

(D3.6 PEER-AERO-NET Creation)
Scope
PEER-AERO-NET (PAN) aimed to be a network for the trans-national transfer of best practices and the provision of peer-to-peer mentoring. The PEER-AERO-NET planned to provide the vehicle to achieve the project’s primary mission in the long-run and therefore its constitution was a central focus of the project.
Code of Conduct (CoC) was created and delivered at the very beginning of the project. It has aimed to harmonize networks’ operation and set rules for it. The initial intention was that each PAN member will be required to sign the CoC. This approach was revised basing on feedback provided by some of the network members that due to their work contract related reasons, they can’t sign such documents. This hasn't resulted in their exclusion from PAN network. The Core group has decided that signature of CoC will not be obligatory.
The PEER-AERO-NET Board was elected at Kick-off among PEER-AERO-NET members and comprises 7 members (from 6 different organizations) and one chair (total of 8 people). This body was the core PEER-AERO-NET and was a basis for further development to include external experts closely related to core PAN members
In the second period, network has extended with a large number of external experts introduced by project partners but also with some new employees from partners’ organizations. The final number of network members is 36, thus giving enough of expertise to successfully run all necessary project activities.

(D3.7 Coaching Process and PEER-to-PEER Interactions)
Lessons learned in the three phases:
Phase 1 suggested that only a simple structure would work reliably with SMEs who appeared to have very short time horizons in terms of return on time invested in new initiatives, and very restricted tolerance for expenditure on workshops which did not give appear to give such quick returns. As a result, it was decided to build a model workshop which combined:
(a) Narrative techniques for the exchange of experience among groups of SMEs in relation to their efforts to manage innovation and partner with larger companies (primes and tier 1s), with
(b) problem-solving techniques on specific topics such as matching technologies to industry needs as represented in the starting list of "hot topics" maintained by the SME-AERO-POWER project.

Phase 2 suggested that the combined model worked well in a half-day or full-day format in any.
The use of narrative techniques (such as Anecdote Circles, Future Backwards) was always successful in producing good responses from participants and generating a climate of trust. This contributed to the quality of the following innovation techniques which aimed to generate high potential ideas from small groups of SMEs (using SpeedStorming, for example). As a result, at the end of the Copenhagen and Cambridge events, at least one group of SMEs reported that they would continue to develop their idea with a view to presenting it to appropriate larger companies in the networks.
However, a major lesson was that groups of SMEs needed to have the assurance of the interest of a Prime or Tier-1 aerospace company or regional organisation.
Visits and proposals to the North West Aerospace Alliance and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance of the UK, and Aerospace Valley of France (an aerospace "pôle de compétitivité") were made. The object was to interest them in sponsoring similar workshops with their SME networks. This did not produce the expected positive responses. It may be that SME-AERO-POWER was seen as too small to be credible or the workshop approach seen as too unconventional. With NWAA, after an excellent meeting, initial enthusiasm for running a workshop for 40 SMEs in the network, drained away over time as it became too difficult to interest companies. This was felt to be because there were too many aerospace initiatives happening at the same time. This was backed up by a senior member of the UK Aerospace, Aviation and Defence Knowledge Transfer Network who observed that initiatives such as the SME-AERO-POWER were in danger of creating "noise" which could mask "more important" initiatives.
Phase 3 built on the lessons learned from Phase 2. Some of the major lessons are:
(a) Involvement of an Aerospace Prime attracted a large number of SMEs who were willing to invest some time and money in attending the Info Day, preparing their competition entry and then attending the OI workshop in April 2013
(b) The Aerospace Prime had previously decided to try an unconventional approach to working with SMEs
(c) SME-AERO-POWER had developed the "Open Innovation" workshop in previous phases and was able to explain and promote its benefits so that all parties (Eurocopter, Pacte PME, and the SMEs themselves) found what was being proposed as a credible way to encourage collaborations among SMEs.
A further lesson from the Eurocopter Open Innovation Project relates to the need to generate an atmosphere of trust. This relates to the fears that SMEs have about interactions with primes and Tier-1's concerning the issue of protecting intellectual property rights (IPR).
In delivering the workshop programme, and particularly the Open Innovation Pilot project for Eurocopter, the issue of protection of IPRs of the participating SME companies was very important, as there is a fear among SMEs that larger companies can ignore the rights of smaller ones in any event in which "collaboration" is expected (as in the workshops). Specific steps taken to preserve IP during the workshops were as follows:
(1) Explicit instructions were given not to reveal any commercially or technically sensitive information, repeated at appropriate points in the events.
(2) Techniques in the workshops which encouraged collaboration and knowledge-sharing (for example Speed Storming) were designed and managed to record the background capabilities and ideas provided by each partner in a collaboration, as well as the foreground ideas produced by the period of collaboration between 2 or more participants.
(3) Workshop participants who collaborated in the way described in point 2 were given the option of not sharing their idea further and discussing a bi-lateral or multi-lateral "confidentiality agreement" after the workshop.
(4) In the case of the Eurocopter Open Innovation Ecosystem Pilot, the ethical standards of the competition to select participants were guaranteed by an independent member of the project team (PactPME - a non-governmental association in France charged with the development of SMEs in all sectors of the economy). In addition, all those attending the 2-day Open Innovation Ecosystem workshop did so having been circulated in advance with a copy of an appropriate "non-disclosure agreement". On arrival, all organisations involved in the workshop (including the constituent companies of SME-AERO-POWER) signed the agreement which bound all participants equally, and guaranteed individual ownership of background IP brought by individual participants and joint ownership of any foreground IP created during the workshop.
Phase 3 concluded with a workshop in Valladolid organised by the Spanish SME-AERO-POWER partner (CIDAUT) on 3 June 2013. This successfully tested the approach within the departments of a large RTO. The workshop attracted participants because of the knowledge developed and shared within the SME-AERO-POWER team.
Interactions were defined as a PEER-AERO-NET member getting professional assistance/guidance from and/or collaborating with another PEER-AERO-NET member in conjunction with project activities.
Since the PAN network has enlarged significantly in the second project period, the result was a high number of collaboration between network members. In most cases, it had happen in relation to various meetings, training and workshops organized by PAN members, but also on a higher level, regarding i.e. the issues of Small Air Transport and its vision for H2020 and Clean Sky 2.
Although number of reported interactions is exactly 30, total figures are beyond that number. They also involve some professional relations and undertakings discussed and run by PAN members, that were done on a basis of extended mutual collaboration and were not easy be described and reported as a single “event” taking place in a given time frame.
(D3.8 PEER-AERO-NET Directory)
In the second period of the project, PEER-AERO-NET has expanded from the core 8 members to final number of 36 aeronautical individuals coming from both partner institutions as well as experts from companies and organizations working closely with them.
Originally, information about new members of PAN was intended to be included in the dedicated part of project website. This was abandoned due to enquires of some external PAN members stating that their contractual work obligations do not let them to be officially involved in such undertakings. Hence the consortium’s decision to not publish names of extended PAN network on the website. This situation had no impact on the work of PAN network.

WP4 - Nurturing the community using SIGs & clustering methods
Deliverable N° Title Lead beneficiary Nature Dissemination level Project Month Actual Delivery date
D4.3 Report on FP7 Information Center AEL Report PU 6 31-Dec-2011
D4.5 Report on the Best Practices AEL Report PU 18 2-May-2013
D4.1 Report on Integration with Aerospace networks AEL Report CO 20 9-Nov-2013
D4.2 Report on Association with European initiatives AEL Report PU 20 9-Nov-2013
D4.4 Report on Feedback to the commission AEL Report CO 27 18/11/2013
D4.6 Report on pan European Cluster development AEL Report PU 27 18/11/2013
(D4.5 Best Practices)
The deliverable suggests intensive feedback with respect to Best Practices and lessons learned, for each and every of the project tasks. In this report, we choose to highlight the indirect feedback that is not associated with the project tasks. This gives a path and can serve as best practice for follow-up tasks and other initiatives.
1. Actions clearly driven by or strongly associated with large companies and particularly Primes are more attractive to SMEs. All workshops and other meetings benefit from a mixed audience comprising relevant people from these large organisations. If the main communication comes apparently from the Prime (even though it might be organised by others) this will increase interest and response;
2. As a consequence, good contact with Primes needs to be maintained rather than just focussing on SMEs;
3. Open Innovation surfaced as a better route for development in which part of the focus is to move form technical innovation to business oriented cooperation;
4. Regional & national actions are key to generate trust & confidence;
5. IP issues need to be covered early. SMEs need to be sure that their ideas will not be stolen or their companies under threat of purchase;
6. As a result of talking to individuals involved in the Aerospace business and listening to their anecdotes it becomes apparent that our enthusiasm and focus on 'innovation', 'creativity' and 'collaboration' does not match their immediate 'needs' so they do not see them as directly worthwhile.

(D4.1 4.2 Integrations with Aerospace Networks & Initiatives)
It was a clear aim of the SME-AERO-POWER project to integrate with existing resources within the aeronautical market, to reduce duplication, increase opportunity by making other initiatives aware of the project, and where relevant influence attitudes and policy about the role of SMEs.
Most of the existing pan European and National Initiatives along with a number of independent Communities (not covered in the deliverable - such as ESBA and UEAME) have been contacted and assessed for close or less intensive interaction.
It is important to create a two-way-street on interaction and we tried to be of benefit to all organisations as well as asking for cooperation from them.
We hope some attempts to suggest topics for future consideration in calls and policy may have an influence.

(D4.4 Feedback for the Commission)
This deliverable provides important feedback that result from the activity done throughout the project, related to both successful and unsuccessful tasks. Moreover, the report highlights a set of 10 feedback items with recommendations which will be brought here in brief:

1. Underutilisation of Information:
There is a plethora of sources of information and social interaction within the industry, but this abundance often leads to underutilisation.
There is still a predominating view that portals and other mechanisms for providing information will be sufficient stimulus for that information to be embrained and subsequently developed into innovation.
Information on events seems welcome but offers and requests to collaborate need additional support.
For SMEs to take the risks to pursue an innovation opportunity the risk, reward, relationship must be affordable and valuable, or it will be dropped in favour of other approaches.
The KTNs in the UK have found that meetings which include short sessions with Primes are the most attractive and well attended by SMEs. Also that webinars are more likely to be attended by SMEs than meetings not involving one to one meetings with Primes.

2. Attractiveness of EU calls for SMEs:
FP7 and Horizon 2020
SMEs in or wishing to enter aeronautics don't look at EU funding. This issue has been identified and reported by many experts. FP7 and Horizon2020 call structure is still not conducive for entry even where SMEs are "piggybacking” on more experienced partners. Generally without prior a great deal of high quality “hand-holding” there is little chance of success for SMEs.
In some member states there are alternative National sources of funding which are more readily accessible and with less onerous bidding structures. Therefore the policies that need to be designed should follow and explore other routes that could help reaching to the main objective: making the European SMEs active in research and benefiting from public supports to sustain their R&D activities. Clean Sky, which is a move in the right direction, is covered below.

Clean Sky
For SMEs Clean Sky offers the most accessible entry within the Framework Call offers in the Aeronautical industry. Clean Sky calls have been the subject of much discussion when seeking to link funding opportunities to SMEs' capabilities.
There are a number of reasons that the Clean Sky modus operandi is beneficial:
• Large number of calls of modest but sufficient budget level;
• Suitable selective topics that often suit the technical capabilities of SMEs;
• The budgeting structure and call requirements are far more accessible than FP7 and subsequently Horizon 2020, if these remain the same as FP7;
• Levels of competition for each call are much lower than for FP7 calls so there is much less likelihood of wasted effort and a greater likelihood of success. This lower risk of failure increases participation motivation distinctly;
• There is a lot more rapid reaction to interaction with Clean Sky directorate and lobbying so the chances of developing suitable future calls is much more worth the effort. There seem to be also greater adaptability and willingness than with FP7.

3. Catering for the needs of SMEs:
By their nature SMEs tend to have a paucity of resources, (time, money and wide ranging expertise/experience). This is critical for micro SMEs and particularly small organisations, some of whom have expertise and technology that would be highly advantageous to the Industry. Below are some of the key issues identified during the project
a. Risks management: SMEs are generally speaking ready to develop new opportunities provided that the risks are shared with other SMEs and better with large companies that can at the same time guarantee access to the markets;
b. IPR management is one of the most important issues for SMEs. Most of them do not have knowledge about the IP management especially when playing with large industry players. There are calls seeking to specifically address this shortfall. Confidence needs to be enhanced if good quality participation is to be achieved. Closer linking IPR support projects would be beneficial;
c. Rapid funding. Rather than just funding SMEs for the development of the new products or technologies the critical issue is how to manage those first steps for business and technology development. Quick funding to allow project development would overcome the main obstacle for SMEs to get involved in R&D. The current funding schemes do not adequately deal with this need;
d. Identified product/service. When talking about innovation, SMEs lack knowledge about the real need of the market. Specific support on this matter at the European level will definitely help the European SMEs to develop high value product and services for identified markets. While this sounds easy for large accounts, it's one of the main obstacles for SMEs;
e. Coaching within a clear framework. Coaching has proved an invaluable improvement tool (Business & technology innovation, business model development, Market analysis and search, Intellectual property management, testing, scaling and up-scaling, industrialization etc);
f. Local political support. SMEs often draw comfort from a known environment. They're usually in touch with the chamber of commerce, innovation centres, incubators etc. It is important that future schemes consider coherence with the existing entities, which is why working with clusters and SME focused agencies proved more cost effective and productive. It is particularly important to not create another pile of administrative tasks before the SMEs receive any kind of support.

4. Awareness Workshops:
The SME-AERO-POWER Awareness Workshops worked towards an intensive mobilisation of SMEs & SOs, starting even before official publications of Calls, thus equipping them with awareness, competencies and knowledge of the process of participating in FP7 Transport Theme activities. Moreover, they encouraged the participants to take more substantial roles in FP7 Aerospace Research Proposals and built the right environment for Narrative workshops to better identify the enablers and barriers of innovation coaching.
However, a major lesson was that groups of SMEs needed to have the assurance of the interest of a Prime or Tier-1 aerospace company or regional organization.

5. Strengths and challenges of the PEER-AERO-NET:
The PEER-AERO-NET network comprised of experts from many aviation domains. In the second period of the project the PEER-AERO-NET has expanded from the core 8 members to final number of 36 aeronautical individuals coming from both partner institutions as well as experts from companies and organizations working closely with them.
PEER-AERO-NET Strengths
• PEER-AERO-NET institutional and professional relationships, some formal and others informal.
• PEER-AERO-NET benefits of firmly established network of contacts of the project partners in a wide variety of domains, ranging from innovation ecology to the aerospace sector.
• PEER-AERO-NET has gained a position of trust and reliability within its targeted groups and this gives it a unique potential of future developments.
• PEER-AERO-NET offers a commodity that is often in short supply – advice and services that are not tainted by particular commercial or vendor perspectives.
• PEER-AERO-NET services reflect its target market, their digital preservation and current needs, and experience.
• The invaluable goodwill that PEER-AERO-NET has established, its trademark, the relationship with the user community it has cultivated, and its high profile in the minds of potential customers put PEER-AERO-NET in a strong position to exploit the business potential of first mover advantage at European level in what is currently a niche market but one that is increasingly becoming mainstream.

PEER-AERO-NET Challenges
• The success may not necessarily be transferable into long-term sustainability for PEER-AERO-NET, despite of the demonstrated need for information, advice, guidance, and continuing professional development of the SMEs and SOs within the aeronautic sector.
• The problem for PEER-AERO-NET is how the project can evolve from an activity funded by the European Commission into a self-sustaining network.
• PEER-AERO-NET must build on its success and expand the network, continuing the promotion of the participation of SMEs and SO in H2020 Calls.
• PEER-AERO-NET will need to find a balance that enables it to exploit the trust and credibility that the community has for services without compromising on either trust or credibility.

6. Evolution towards a new generation concept for SIGs:
SME-AERO-POWER aimed at building upon the experience gained both from the consortium members running several communities in a bottom-up approach and from various approaches in the area of community building. The success stories encouraged the project team to expand on this towards specific communities: SMEs
Most of the communities find it hard to recruit and even more difficult to retain real world SMEs. These findings have been reinforced by statements from many CEOs are:
• With time at a premium participation has to be quickly and consistently effective and SIGs find it very difficult to sufficiently fulfil this criterion;
• There are too many offers (a real competition is taking place to involve SMEs in various programs at the national and international levels);
• The platforms do not provide a clear evidence for knowledge protection;
• IT platforms are not believed to be the best route to generate opportunities and business.

7. Open Innovation:
The concept of Open innovation was proposed as a response to the need for faster and broader innovation take-up and development. This had developed from experiences in Phases 1 and 2 of the project implementation and provided an adjunct to WP3.
Implementing this strategy involves a number of important considerations:
- Membership of the ecosystem should not be limited to organisations already working within aerospace, since the range of possible new offers is greatly expanded by a diversity of technologies and ideas from other sectors - in line with the principles of creativity in Design Thinking and Open Innovation;
- Providing genuine opportunities for "meutes" to form, and then to produce new offers (by developing new ideas to a state where the market potential is realised) requires a sophisticated and unusual approach which nourishes self-organising collaboration - in line with Complex Systems theory;
- An ecosystem cannot be managed with a traditional business "command and control" metaphor, as there is no algorithm (however complicated) which can guarantee that any idea can be assured of market success. At any time, there needs to be a number of "meutes" working on a range of possible offers, which some will succeed and some will fail. It is important to manage the climate of the ecosystem (the affective aspect) so that it is safe-to-fail.
Given the very positive responses, the general conclusion was that the pilot workshop achieved its objectives and that it provides a successful model for further activities so that the Eurocopter business innovation ecosystem, or another Aerospace Prime, can improve its customers’ experience and support SMEs in export markets and grow by:
• Opening it to pan-European and international SME involvement;
• Extending the diversity of SMEs involved to include more unusual industrial sectors;
• Refining the processes established by the pilot in order to repeat it, perhaps, twice each year.

8. Cooperation with Aerospace Networks, Clusters and Initiatives:
In general it is well worthwhile opening discussions with networks clusters and other initiatives. Often quite early into the discussions avenues of mutual benefit arise or it is clear there is little benefit in cooperation. Not surprisingly there are also instances where other factors, e.g. the effect of the NATEP project funding opportunity on the project interaction with the UK aerospace clusters, where what we had to offer was eclipsed by the alternative.
The benefit of formal over informal relationships is unproven. In many instances there was a strong resistance to a written MoU or considerable argument on inclusions and exclusions, whilst an informal relationship invoked greater trust and flexibility. Also it is highly unlikely that any penalty would have been sought for a breach of a MoU.
Pan European development is still very tenuous with the focus being localised or at best regionalised or nationalised. Even pan European groups like EACP the European Aerospace Cluster Partnership, share knowledge and experiences but are not very adept at pan European programming.

9. Living Laboratory Creation:
Living Lab (LL) approach provides an intensive networking and coaching process that accompanies SMEs & SOs, starting even before official publications of Calls. In addition to the networking services, the LL equips SMEs/SOs with competencies and knowledge of the process of participating in FP7 & subsequently Horizon2020 Aeronautics Theme activities. It will even encourage SMEs/SOs to take more substantial roles in FP7/Horizon2020 Aerospace Research Proposals. To support the process and to allow a more focused approach, Critical Issues and Hot Topics should be continuously identified by experts and end-users.
The suggested Operating Model for the Living Laboratory Approach is detailed in the deliverable D5.4 (Living Lab Recommendations).
- Critical success factors identified are:
• Mobilization and clustering of innovative SMEs for Aeronautical EU research
• Open knowledge sharing within an IPR oriented network environment
• Developing competences associated with self-organisation among actors within the European AAT aerospace innovation eco-system enabled through learning/training in Living Lab approaches
• Critical mass of proposals submitted
- Risks identified are:
• Open and active networking and competence matching of SMEs and Primes
• Primes remain in a "supply chain mind-set" which inhibits the development of open collaborations
• SMEs remain in a "dependency mind-set" which looks to EU policy-making to support them
• Critical mass of proposals rejected
• Resistance of SMEs/SOs and Primes to participate in EU projects (time constraints)

10. Improving the gateway for SMEs & SOs to the European Commission:
SMEs find clear difficulties in putting their views across to policy-makers. SMEs do not usually have the resources which large firms dedicate to influencing policy-making or lobbying.
The SME-AERO-POWER project found that it is key to avoid starting from scratch, but to rely both on the potential of entities with access to a wide network of SMEs and SOs and on entities with strong connections with the aeronautics sector or/and the European Commission.

(D4.6 Clusters Development)
One of the SME-AERO-POWER aims was to increase the pan European clustering, e.g. through the PEER-AERO-NET. There are still competencies that are not well enough developed to facilitate the smooth collaborations necessary to drive the European Aerospace industry forward with speed and retain competitiveness. The goal of combining regional clustering to create transnational and international clusters is very challenging particularly adequate inclusion of talent from former New Member states.
SME-AERO-POWER was designed and the aim was, after the end of the Project, to initiate a continually increasing network on a European level far beyond the initial core of the Projects consortium partners. However, the network has started as a small high-quality kernel, preparing, testing, adapting and validating a very solid architecture of the collaboration framework and the pursued interactions and very relevant contacts to high-leverage SME National Contact Points, SME networks and other regional innovation facilitators do exist in the consortium.
Suitable alliances and partnerships may be difficult to establish and thus reduce the opportunity for collaborative participation. Effective participation in developing future Framework Themes is less than it should be.
It is quite clear that the activity with pan-European clusters demands larger resources than what was initially planned and contracted. Therefore we could say that under the budget limitations we had the opportunity to *learn* more rather than to *change*. It is the job of future actions to focus on the area of clustering, to make a change in the Aerospace area.

WP5 - Dissemination Visibility and Self-Sustained Activity
Deliverable N° Title Lead beneficiary Nature Dissemination level Project Month Actual Delivery date
D5.2 Dissemination Material CIDAUT Report PU 3 28-Nov-2011
D5.1 Website Design and Activities CIDAUT Other PU 2 31-May-2012
D5.3 Dissemination Events listing CIDAUT Report PU 3 18-Jun-2012
D5.6 PEER-AERO-NET exploitation plan CIDAUT Report CO 6 12-Nov-2013
D5.4 Living Lab Creation Recommendations CIDAUT Report PU 21 12-Sep-2013
D5.5 Report on the Gateway to the SMEs for the European Commission CIDAUT Report PU 27 12-Nov-2013
D5.7 Report on awareness & wider societal implications CIDAUT Report PU 27 12-Nov-2013
D5.8 Recommended further exploitations of narrative workshop outputs CIDAUT Report PU 27 13/11/2013
D5.9 Database of contacts BTL Report PP 27 30/09/2013

(D5.8 Recommendations on further exploitation of Narrative Workshops)
Given the success of the narrative and problem-solving workshops in the SME-AERO-POWER project which led to the very powerful Open Innovation Workshop pilot with a Prime (Eurocopter, an EADS company), the recommendations below are made to ensure that exploitation of the lessons learned continues.
In this way, the impact on European SMEs involved in aerospace could be considerable in terms of helping them to collaborate in suitable groups in order to:
- Discover "opportunities for innovation" which build on combinations of capabilities
- Develop these ideas in ways that lead to market (perhaps in the Small Aviation sector)
- Propose topics for Horizon 2020 or Clean Sky research funding.

Some of the recommendations are:
1. Maintain the project website for 3 further years as a vehicle to distribute awareness of the continued availability of Open Innovation Workshops for groups of interested companies emphasising the interest of the EC Research Directorate in supporting such workshops;
2. Promote Open Innovation Workshops within SME networks in their own countries and in adjacent countries as opportunities arise;
3. Attempt to find high-level sponsorship for such Open Innovation Workshops e.g. from government aerospace agencies and, if possible from Primes or Tier-1 aerospace companies, emphasising the role of Eurocopter in the pilot project;

(D5.9 Database of Contacts)
The Database of Contacts is a snapshot of the contact details of the people whom the project accessed or was trying to attract. It was collected either from the web (free or not copyrighted sources) or direct registration to SME-AERO-POWER website or LinkedIn groups. The database currently contains 1812 records.
The data includes contacts from 38 countries, mostly in Europe but also beyond. The largest number of contacts is from France (>400 in total). Around half of the contacts are from countries with strong affiliation to the European Aerospace industry (e.g. France-UK-Germany), and the rest are from countries which are less favoured in terms of Aerospace research. Less than 25% are non-SMEs and so the majority of the contacts come from Small and Medium Enterprises, 90% of them independent (i.e. not owned by other companies).
Most of the records contain complete & full information. Normally there are no duplications or bad records. However, our experience shows that databases that are not constantly updated tend to lose accuracy, as people work in dynamic environments which often change. Not always we can anticipate or know of these changes, if the user has chosen not to update their record in our database.
This data is available to the Commission in means of Excel table.

Potential Impact:
The main achievements of the project are:
- The creation of PEER-AERO-NET, a network that consisted the project partners and eventually expanded throughout the project and towards the end
- The identification of current "Hot Topics" in the aerospace industry, which was re-examined and validated throughout the project
- The creation of a central database of relevant domain contacts and especially the classification of the contacts according to both "Technology" and "Products" attributes
- The engagement of industry Primes to relevant activities around "Open Innovation" theme and concluding on the effect that such involvement has
- The involvement of project partners in the Small Air Transport initiative that SMEs will benefit from in the near future by the inclusion of it in H2020
- The production of sound recommendation to the creation of a pan-European Living Lab around the aerospace theme
- The use of modern mentoring & coaching methodologies to breaking the ice and create initial trust among people from different cultures and backgrounds
- The creation of infrastructure to exploit those achievements after the project is officially ended

However, it should be noted that certain factors objectively prevented the project from reaching critical mass and therefore remain as mean of degradation of the impact that was achieved. We are still certain that the potential impact remains valid and substantial, and it could be reached if at least some of the constraints are released.

These factors are:
- The project budget was relatively small even compared to other similar initiatives (less than EUR 0,5 Mio) and this was definitely a contributor to the fact that it was difficult to scale up in activities
- Europe is big and decentralised and with lack of substantial federated support, it is rather difficult to reach critical mass or to properly cover 32 countries (EU-27 and its FP7 associates).
- The project felt a lack of relevant open Calls for Proposals. The timing of the project execution suggested that there was one open Call in the beginning of the project, which it was difficult to exploit it with the project methodologies because it was too soon to the start, and then, because FP7 was ending there were no new open FP7 Calls any more.
- Clear and precise official information on Horizon 2020 was not readily available until the project has in fact ended, so there was also a gap in information that had a negative impact in terms of continuity and ability to attract relevant players to prepare for H2020.
- In general, it is difficult to influence on the research agenda of Europe as reflected in the EC future work programmes. Even more so when it comes to a timing of gap between funding programmes.
Having said all that, it should be made clear that the project made quite a number of important recommendations, based on the experience gained in it during the 27 months execution, and the EC is invited to consider them when implementing the H2020 programme.

Results and actions to be exploited:
PEER-AERO-NET
PEER-AERO-NET constitutes itself the most important result and asset of the project, as many efforts of the project were focused on the development of the network, Most of the activity devoted to the development of the network has crystallized in the creation of the Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) which intended to help stakeholders find their niches, also providing the network a searchable archive of SMEs, SOs and other entities.
The Specific Interest Groups were initially thought to be strictly based on social networking, yet during the project, a more interactive business eco-system with an enhanced presence on face to face activities proved to be more effective. For this reason the concept of SIGs was changed during the execution of the project.
Despite the change of the concept in the SIGs, the philosophy of them has remained the same, as they have been effective channels of information as well as places for free discussion among their members, offering many opportunities for the development of links and partnerships. In other words, they offer a pool of valuable partners for SMEs/SOs and other stakeholders, who are supposed to make the consortia balanced enough to establish a successful critical mass.
Moreover they haven’t only served as intermediary evaluators of potential project ideas expressed by SMEs and SOs, but also ensuring that the approach proposed went clearly ahead of the current state of the art.
All in all, the network has been an excellent tool for fostering the active participation of SMEs and SO, and thus, the consortium could continue its networking activities beyond the limits of the project.

Best Practice Guide
A document (Best Practice Guide) was created based on the experiences gathered by SME-AERO-POWER consortium, in providing information and assistance to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and to Small Organisations (SOs) working in the Aeronautical sector.
This guide aims to support SMEs and SOs planning to submit their own projects, providing them a sound basis in the general rules of participation and addressing the main obstacles they could meet submitting their proposals.
The best practice guide is a comprehensive tool for the SMEs and SOs as it provides support along the whole lifecycle of the project, comprising the following contents:
First set of assistance
- Identification of the suitable funding opportunities: It gives an overview of the European RTD funded projects, providing SMEs a starting point and allowing them to assimilate a clear map of the opportunities for the participation
- Legal, administrative, financial aspects of FP7- the basis: It highlights the most relevant FP7 legal, administrative and financial aspects gathered by the participation rules with a clear practical approach, and with the aim of giving concrete answers to the most common questions that newcomers formulate when participating for the first time in the Framework Programme.
- Electronic tools and forms for submitting and managing FP7 project: This section provides clear explanations of the most EC common tools for the submission and management of projects: EPSS, FORCE, SESAM, which are some of the most important practical difficulties that newcomers find when approaching European funded projects.
- IPR Issues: SMEs and SOs feel themselves often in a position of weakness when dealing with primes or tier 1 or tier 2. For this reason the guide includes a chapter on IPR issues within FP7, which provides an overview of the FP/ IPR governing rules, as well as the common procedures.
Horizon 2020
As the FP7 is approaching its closure, the guide included a dedicated chapter about Horizon 2020 based on the information available at the time of the submission of the deliverable, which explained the structure of the new programme.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS OF THE WORK:
PEER-AERO-NET
The consortium has expressed its willingness to continue the activities of the PEER-AERO-NET beyond the limits of the SME-AERO-POWER project. For this reason during the next months it will be needed to shift from the phase covered by the duration of the project, focused on the establishment of the network, to a second phase fully aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the activities of the network in the long run.
Based in its hallmarks:
- market driven needs;
- professional cover of the R&D activities;
- open innovation;
- innovation eco-system building, and
- professional business innovation coaching
The network has to evolve to be able to work with a softer management approach and address the previously mentioned challenges, being the most crucial of them (and the first to be tackled) the following:
- Definition of a reliable management structure
- Effective online capitalization of offline activities
- Improvement of its penetration among aeronautic SMEs
- Upgrade of its procedures to meet the new scenario opened by the launch of Horizon 2020.

Best Practice Guide
The best practice guide has proved to be a useful tool for guiding SMEs and SO in their first approaches to FP7 Procedures. Nevertheless the launch of Horizon 2020 is likely to bring important changes in the overall scenario and also in the way that SMEs interact with the European programmes for research funding.

List of Websites:
The projects' public website is - http://www.sme-aero-power.eu/
It contains detailed information on the SME-AERO-POWER project, consortia, media updates, EU funding opportunities, and applications such as PEER-AERO-NET directory, list of SIGs, activities and more.
The website links to several virtual social networks, such as:
- A LinkedIn professional group (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/SMEAEROPOWER-4203999?home=&gid=4203999&trk=anet_ug_hm)
- A blog (http://paper.li/SMEAERO/1327609493)
- And a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/SMEAERO)

Project partners:
No. Partner Name Short Name Country Main Contact Email
1 BEACON TECH LTD BTL Israel Mr. Yoram Lev-Yehudi yly@beacontech.eu

2 ABILITY EUROPE LIMITED AEL United Kingdom Prof. Mounib Mekhilef Mounib.mekhilef@abilityeuope.com

3 AGENZIA PER LA PROMOZIONE DELLA RICERCA EUROPEA APRE Italy Ms. Diassina Di Maggio dimaggio@apre.it

4 ARGENTA EUROP LTD ARG United Kingdom Mr. Alan Drummond aland@argenta-europ.com

5 INSTYTUT PODSTAWOWYCH PROBLEMOW TECHNIKI POLSKIEJ
AKADEMII NAUK IPPT PAN Poland Mr. Zbigniew Turek Zbigniew.Turek@kpk.gov.pl

6 FUNDACION CIDAUT CIDAUT Spain Mr. Francisco Javier Nuñez Fernandez franun@cidaut.es

7 FACHHOCHSCHULE AACHEN AcUAS Germany Prof. Harald Funke funke@fh-aachen.de