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Regional, National and European Support for Photonics Innovation Clusters enhancing SMEs Innovative Potential

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RespiceSME (Regional, National and European Support for Photonics Innovation Clusters enhancing SMEs Innovative Potential)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2017-12-31

Photonics is one of the key drivers allowing the European economy to modernize and strengthen its competitiveness, creating jobs and growth for its SMEs and be well-positioned as a key player in the global economy.The RespiceSME project aims to reinforce the innovative capacity of Europe’s photonics Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), clusters and national platforms by stimulating targeted collaborations in and beyond photonics. RespiceSME proposes new approaches for stronger innovative effectiveness using a 3-dimensional approach: 1.RespiceSME will evaluate and stimulate the innovation potential in order to strengthen the innovation capacity of high-tech photonics SMEs; 2. RespiceSME will enhance the global technological exploitation of photonics innovation capacity by analysing different value chains valuable for high-tech photonics SMEs. This will allow significant leveraging of non-photonic sectors such as Environment/ Energy, Transport and Manufacturing and thereby, enabling the penetration of new markets and/or new application areas close to markets; 3. RespiceSME focuses on creating a bridge over the ‘Valley of Death’ to increase the competitiveness of the European photonics sector by developing Best Practices for enabling photonics SMEs access European and regional Research Technology Organisations, harnessing educational and training programmes aligned with their specific needs, determining next generation regional innovative smart specialisation strategies and providing access to public and private financial supports.
The project mainly focused on the development of the RespiceSME Toolbox with dedicated tools for enabling the innovation potential of high-tech photonics SMEs, stimulating new business collaborations in and beyond photonics, revealing support opportunities and building the innovation capacities for value creation in SMEs.
Following a 3-dimensional approach, the consortium produced the following outcomes:

1. Supporting high-tech photonics SMEs in their innovation process and bringing those innovations successfully into the market was the highest priorities of RespiceSME’s consortium, which put the following tools into practice:

• Potential Innovation Index to benchmark innovation capacities of SMEs;
• Innovation Audit to measure innovation strengths and weaknesses of SMEs;
• Strategy Workshops to evaluate the threats and opportunities of SMEs and develop a sustainable Business Innovation strategy;
• Coaching Methodology and ‘Innovation Assistants’ to assist high-tech photonics SMEs in improving their innovation potential.
• Publication of Business/Technology profiles for technological, commercial and research partnerships

2. Stimulating new business collaborations in and beyond photonics by enabling the penetration of new markets and / or new application areas close to markets. RespiceSME optimises the value of inter-sectoral applications of photonics by promoting better mutual understanding and exploitation of interdisciplinary value chains and sector roadmaps. For this purpose, following tools have been implemented:

• Methodology for Value Chain Analysis for commercial sectors of Environment/ Energy, Transport and Manufacturing;
• Transfer of Best Practices between Photonics Clusters and National Platforms;
• Mapping potential collaborations between photonics and non-photonics SMEs;
• Brokerage events to promote SMEs’ collaborations.

3. Building innovation capacities for value creation in SMEs by helping SMEs to overcome the ‘Valley of Death’ and bring innovations to market through the following tools:

• Methodology for easy access to Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs)
• Access to skilled personnel through the education and training programmes
• Analysis of Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3)
• Access to finance
The central vision of RespiceSME is to help creating conditions where high-tech photonics SMEs:

* Are easily identified and can increase their visibility;
* Improve their innovation potential through coaching by cluster management/staff or through cooperation with RTOs or education facilities;
* Meet other photonics experts and establish business collaborations through trade opportunities, know-how and technology Transfer;
* Establish stronger links with their innovation clusters and national platforms;
* Cooperate with non-photonics experts from different value chains and application sectors who are interested in photonics sector and their businesses;
* Obtain access to financial resources and research infrastructures and thereby, overcome the ‘Valley of Death’.

RespiceSME supports the promotion of optical technologies as key enabling technologies in research, development application, education and Training while increasing the awareness of policy makers on photonics in defining general conditions and priorities to increase the efficiency of innovation in the field of photonics. The Project also creates a sustainable photonics community with close co-operations between companies and research institutes in order to promote innovation.
While helping SMEs in finding new investment opportunities, tailored to their technology portfolio and company dynamics while efficiently targeting market Needs, RespiceSME reveals, generates and exploits all tools available for bridging the ‘Valley of Death’ for new-born photonics SMEs. The consortium's main Goal is to bring SMEs closer to end-user companies through common activities of non-photonics sectors by scaling up and down collaboration and networking activities with emphasis in SME cases, starting from B2B while progressing to Cluster2Cluster collaborations in national and European level. Last but not least, RespiceSME increases the contribution of SMEs to the economic development of the relevant regions and countries, while catalysing synergies in regional level considering optimised value chains and existing smart specialisation strategies.
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