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New cross sEctorial value chains creation across EuroPe faciliTated by clUsters for SMEs's INnovation in BluE Growth

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NEPTUNE (New cross sEctorial value chains creation across EuroPe faciliTated by clUsters for SMEs's INnovation in BluE Growth)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2018-12-31

The European Union faces huge challenges in food security, sustainable agriculture, marine, maritime and inland water research and bio economy. Blue Growth plays an important role in meeting these societal challenges and unlocking the potential of oceans and inland water for the benefit of European competitiveness.

The NEPTUNE addressed the three key aspects of Blue Growth identified as having a great potential: Water management in urban and rural environments; Fluvial and maritime transport and port logistics; Environment and renewable marine/water energy.

Thus, the NEPTUNE project aimed at developing new cross-sectoral and cross-border industrial value-chains, including in particular SMEs, to foster the development of Blue Growth industries in Europe and beyond. This development will be based on the construction of new value chains and the reconfiguration of existing ones driven by the integration of new technologies and know- how between Water, Maritime, Aerospace, ICT, Microelectronics, Agrifood, Logistics, Creative Industries, Energy, and Mobility cluster actors/industries.

At the end of the project, more than 100 SMEs beneficiated directly from NEPTUNE, through direct funding and business development services, pointing out the success the NEPTUNE team had in reaching out European SMEs.
1. Emergence of project ideas and consortia building

To support the identification of market trends and emergence of new ideas, the NEPTUNE project has developed a unique and innovative methodology based on 3 main tools, mixing virtual and physical approaches.
1. 1 Open-space for remote collaboration, using collaborative virtual environment.
2. 2 Interclustering innovation clubs (IC) implementing a creativity methodology called STAR were organised, gathering 79 participants.
3. 2 remote International Brokerage Events (IBE) were organised in which the 69 participants (48 SMEs) held 56 meetings with European actors.

Launched in parallel with the publication of the NEPTUNE call for expression of interest addressed to SMEs and Would-be entrepreneurs (WBE), the IC and IBE were useful for the emergence of cross-sectoral and cross-border projects and innovation: 32 applicants for 27 projects and among them 18 applicants submitted 9 joint projects to the NEPTUNE call.

2.Support to the selected SMEs through vouchers and coaching and mentoring services

On the overall projects 41 projects have been supported through vouchers, representing 71 SMEs, of which:
• 15 SMEs in Water management in urban and rural environment
• 19 SMEs in Fluvial and maritime transport and port logistics
• 37 SMEs in Marine environment (biodiversity) and renewable marine/water energy

Regarding coaching and mentoring services (CMS), 71 have been delivered to 49 SMEs:
• 15 SMEs in Water management in urban and rural environment
• 10 SMEs in Fluvial and maritime transport and port logistics
• 24 SMEs in Marine environment (biodiversity) and renewable marine/water energy
The NEPTUNE partners initiated the first CMS deliveries during the first reporting period.

In order to leverage additional funding for the supported SMEs and WBE, the NEPTUNE partners developed links with their regional ecosystems notably through the establishment of an External Advisory Board currently consisting of 14 members that are potential financers or/and customers of the services and products to be developed by SMEs and WBE supported by NEPTUNE.

3. Transverse activities

In order to support the two main axis of the NEPTUNE project, transverse activities were performed: active communication and dissemination, efficient project monitoring and rigorous overall project management.

4. Dissemination of SME led projects

An effort was brought to disseminate the solution developped by the SMEs supported through NEPTUNE. On the overall, 3 newsletter presenting the project progress and focusing on granted SMEs were disseminated through every partners' international networks as well as 1 final communication document. 1 Final Showcase Event has been organised to allow granted SMEs to present their project results in front of potential european business partners, investors, cluster representatives and European Commission representatives.
"Strategic impact

Following the NEPTUNE calls, 41 innovative cross-sectoral projects are supported through the CMS and vouchers:
•Applicative market of water management in urban and rural environment: 9 projects representing 16 SMEs
•Applicative market of fluvial and maritime transport and port logistic: 13 projects representing 19 SMEs
•Applicative market of environment and renewable marine energies: 19 projects representing 36 SMEs

Impact on the Work Programme

NEPTUNE acts as an accelerator for SMEs’ innovation. 71 SMEs across Europe are supported in their cross-sectoral innovative projects through the first NEPTUNE call.
NEPTUNE targets the development of new or reconfigures competitive industrial value chains. On the overall it has been estimated that 634 jobs are to be created and 80 jobs safeguarded by 2021 (Based on the data delivered by the granted SMEs on their projects’ technical reports)
NEPTUNE aims at further leverage and complement support for innovation in SMEs and other funding. 13 SMEs benefited from CMS#3 Funding opportunities and 7 SMEs benefited from CMS#2 Business Model. 6 project of 8 SMEs were co-funded by a regional fund and 7 projects of 7 SMEs benefited from a capital risk fund.
NEPTUNE contributes to RIS3. 16 projects supported by NEPTUNE are in line with the regional S3, representing 22 SMEs.
NEPTUNE targets to provide a clear and measurable contribution to the innovation performance of the supported SMEs in the short-term and to its impact on resource efficiency and/or turnover. A wider impact is also expected in the medium-term. It as been estimated an increase of at least 27 million € of SMEs turnover thanks to the support provided. (Based on the data delivered by the granted SMEs on their projects’ technical reports)
NEPTUNE aims at improving the business environment of the supported SMEs. The concept of innovative Open Space Platform, with the aim of supporting emergence of new ideas and solutions was based on 10 physical meeting rooms, was attractive and led to applications to the NEPTUNE calls.

Individual Impact

Each NEPTUNE partner benefited from its participation to the NEPTUNE project in terms of: reinforcement of activities towards Blue Growth in a cross-sectoral approach, support to clusters members and actors of its ecosystem, gain of visibility and recognition on Blue Growth at the regional, national and European levels, inter-sectoral and inter-cluster collaboration, development of new contacts and collaborations, share of good practices in innovation and business support management."
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