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PAn-European Clusters for Technology Transfer and new VAlue chains

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ACTTiVAte (PAn-European Clusters for Technology Transfer and new VAlue chains)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-05-31

ACTTiVAte aims to foster cross-sectoral innovation among SMEs from four different sectors, aerospace, agro-food, health and ICT allocating 85% of the project budget to SMEs. The Project will focus its effort in setting up strategies that allow clusters to lead the engagement of SMEs in activities intended to create new services and products and therefore the generation of new value chains and emerging industries across Europe. Furthermore, ACTTiVAte intends to set up strategies to achieve stable growth of cross-sectoral and cross-border innovation beyond the project.
To ensure the accomplishment of this purpose, several measurable objectives are defined for the ACTTiVAte project.
- Objective 1 (O1): To facilitate the emergence of cross-sector new value chains resulting from the analysis and assessment of advanced technologies among four sectors with strong synergies: Aerospace, Agro-food, Health and ICT.
- Objective 2 (O2): To establish methodologies for durable cross-sectoral collaboration across different regions in Europe, led by cluster organisations and other intermediary organisations creating the grounds for a competitive
reindustrialization that fosters the development of emerging industries in Europe.
- Objective 3 (O3): To support the development of innovation projects driven by SMEs from different sectors and improve their business environment by launching a call for proposal through different poles of the ACTTiVAte consortium and
establishing a systemic approach to foster innovation during and beyond the competitive calls.
- Objective 4 (O4): To facilitate SME access to public and private financing opportunities, setting up funding schemes to complement public funds with private investments and establishing open collaboration spaces that can involve innovation
actors from different sectors and countries.
- Objective 5 (O5): To demonstrate the feasibility of strategies to foster cross-sectoral innovation in SMEs through large-scale demonstrations aimed at helping industrial regions and its industries transform themselves and enter new value chains and support the smart specialization strategies of the involved regions, enabling synergies with structural funds, the creation of jobs, start-ups and the consolidation of a strategy for a sustainable industrial development
The work performed during ACTTiVAte project can be broken down into four phases:

Phase 1: Regional and Technical Analysis of the Innovation Ecosystem
During this initial analytical phase that spanned during the first eight months of the project, the activities performed aimed at analyzing and defining the innovation ecosystem in which the call for proposal would be launched with the overarching goal of maximizing the relevance and therefore the impact of the innovation support services provided by ACTTiVAte.
Phase 2: ACTTiVAte Call for Proposal Development and Launch
Having analyzed the innovation ecosystem, this second phase of the project involved integrating the gathered inputs into a cohesive and clear call for proposal documents, leading to the launch of a successful call. This phase was finalized on June 1st 2017 (Month 12 of the project) with the achievement of one of the key milestones of the ACTTiVAte project, “The launch of the call for proposal”.

Phase 3: Call Closure, Proposal Evaluation and Selection of Projects.

After launching the call on June 1st 2017 all project partners disseminated the call details to interested SMEs. The call for proposal closed on September and it was considered a success in terms of participation with 138 proposals received. Consortium members worked very hard on developing and testing the flawless selection matrix spreadsheet including many entrepreneurship criteria to ensure the selection of the best possible SMEs. Between September 5th, 2017 and October 20th, 2017 the evaluation of the proposals took place. On October 24th and 25th, 2017 an Evaluation Committee Meeting took place to consolidate all evaluations and come up with a final ranking. Finally, after a quality check, all applicants were notified of the final results of the call. The next part was the development of the SMEs project finished with the SMEs deliverables D1, D2 and D3. The Technical Managers, Financial Managers and Project Officers were working in groups of three coordinated by the WP4 Leader giving the necessary support to the SMEs. All the work done was checked by the Quality Manager whose role was to control the quality of the deliverables produced by the SMEs.

This period was also used for creating few analytical reports based on the data collected. It was also the time for using communication and dissemination activities to promote not only the results of the project but the SMEs itself. All of that resulted in custom designed Final Conference widely disseminated and held at the biggest innovation event in Spain – Digital Enterprise Show 2019, being home for three days for the top innovative companies from Europe and the World. It was a time and place for our SMEs to showcase their innovations and utilize the time for valuable B2B meetings with the invited Investors.

Phase 4: Sustainability of the ACTTiVAte project.

Along with the development of the D7.6 Intermediated Sustainability Plan in May 2018 the consortium started to intensify the work on the sustainability of the project. Some strategic workshops have been held in MAC premises by the Management Team. Others were organized during the General Assembly meetings with all the project partners. The consortium discussed and developed many possible scenarios for the project development beyond its duration and created possible ways to sustain the project results. The possible sustainability scenarios were comprehensively described in the D7.8 Final ACTTiVAte Sustainability Plan are have been implemented since then.
The methodologies and lessons learned developed internally throughout the project in terms of the required internal procedures for an effective collaboration between clusters, RTDs, Universities, SMEs, innovation facilitators and large organizations of different European regions will prove to be an invaluable source of information to consolidate the central role of clusters as key players in the European innovation ecosystem.
The results of the launched call for proposal and the preliminary analyses carried out have demonstrated that innovative SMEs are thriving to take full advantage of their innovation potential in order to embrace cross-sectoral technology transfer and cross sectoral innovation strategies to enable the creation of new value chains and contribute to tackle strategic regional challenges.
These are just some of the wider societal implications that the project is experiencing and anticipating as of the first half of the project.
The special attention has been paid to the development of the SMEBOOK platform which will play a crucial role in the “beyond the state of the art” strategy and will serve ACTTiVAte’s SMEs and new SMEs to connect, innovate and grow.
The results of the project are not only qualitative. The quantitative research on the SMEs resulted in findings regarding the external additional funding and new business connections established by the programme SMEs. The additional financial leverage generated thanks to the ACTTiVAte participation was one of the most important success factors of this project.