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European Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence in ChiNA

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ERICENA (European Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence in ChiNA)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

Europe has been in the forefront of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in recent years. The challenge today is to keep the innovation pace going, and for that the EU sees cooperation as the key factor that will support this progress and strengthen the position of world leader in STI.

The aim of the European Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence in ChiNA (ERICENA) is to set up a Centre that connects and supports European STI organisations (including entrepreneurs and the private sector) with the Chinese market, providing a careful selection of STI related services to private and public clients in China, and simultaneously aims to be financially self-sustainable by the end of the project duration. The Centre will provide the necessary support to private or public organisations of all the EU Member States, especially the less developed ones, to engage in research and innovation activities with China.

The Centre itself aims (i) to promote European Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) interests in China by connecting and supporting European researchers and entrepreneurs and (ii) to reinforce the leadership of European countries in STI in China by providing support-based services (e.g: network, advice, training…) and technology-related services to European researchers and entrepreneurs in China.

ERICENA will operate on a network basis, having headquarters in Beijing and Brussels, supported by multiple regional connections across China, particularly by building upon existing European STI structures and initiatives to avoid unnecessary duplications in the service provision.

To achieve the specific objectives, the consortium, led by SPI, brings together 12 organisations from Europe and China, with know-how and experience in the Chinese market and, from different member states and with influence over mainland China. Additionally the consortium is composed of different types of organisations such as companies, universities, funding agencies, research centres, business associations and innovation agencies.
During the first 18 months of implementation of the project (Initial Setup Phase and half of the Pilot Stage) the project has prepared and implemented a service portfolio to provide to EU stakeholders in China, setup offices in Beijing, hosted by the EU SME Centre, and Brussels, hosted by EBN, as well as a first ERICENA Regional Hub in Chengdu, hosted by EUPIC, and effectively increased its reputation as a promoter of EU-China cooperation in STI.

During the Setup Phase (first 12 months), apart from setting up its first office in Beijing, hosted by the EU SME Centre, the project team studied the overall framework conditions of the STI landscape in China, in order to identify and understand the supply and demand needs, define the strategic goals of the Centre, the business fields to act on and to build a coherent service portfolio that can best address the needs of European STI stakeholders in the Chinese market.

Furthermore, the project had to align its activities and strategy with the priorities defined for the EU-China STI cooperation. To build the service portfolio the project team resorted to a survey to analyse the market demand for services in WP1, the organisation of workshops with the all the consortium and relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and build the portfolio based on their expertise and then bilateral interviews were organised with multiple European stakeholders with experience in the Chinese market and Chinese stakeholders, who provided inputs on the draft portfolio. The service portfolio was concluded in a review meeting with the project partners to analyse the outputs of the process and build the final portfolio:

- RDI Consultancy and Coaching
- STI RDI Intelligence
- Innovation Support Certification
- Soft Landing and Co-working
- Fostering Open Innovation through Training
- Cooperation Enabling Events
- RDI Briefings

On the first half of the Pilot stage (last 6 months), the Centre established its office in Brussels, Belgium, hosted by EBN. The Centre also launched and started implementing its service portfolio, having already supported some European companies in the Chinese market, including the Call for Application for Soft Landing Zones (Innovation Support Certification and Soft Landing and Co-working), which aims at selecting a number of companies to act on behalf of ERICENA in providing soft landing and co-working services in China for European organisations that wish to establish themselves in the market, that will be concluded before the third quarter of 2018.

Throughout this period the project team has extensively focussed on disseminating the project, its activities and services among European and Chinese stakeholders, thus building a reputation as a promoter of European interests in China. Apart from social media, website and dissemination within the consortium network, ERICENA has a periodic newsletter (RDI Briefings) that promotes its activities and explores other relevant EU-China topics. Most notably, the team participates in multiple events attended by key stakeholders, and the organisation of five workshops and trainings (Fostering Open Innovation through Training) in Europe targeted at EU stakeholders with interests in the Chinese market and cooperation with China, seven webinars (Fostering Open Innovation through Training) with experts from the EU and China on multiple topics related to common issues and/or questions about the Chinese STI landscape, and three missions and one conference (Cooperation Enabling Events) in China to provide personal contact with key stakeholders from multiple sectors interested in cooperating with the EU. Furthermore, the project team has already provided a personalised RDI Consultancy and Coaching to a Lithuanian organisation that was looking for partners in China and developed two STI RDI Intelligence reports that provide a detailed analysis on the Chinese STI landscape and opportunities generated by the ERICENA Regional Hub in Chengdu.
For the next 30 months of the project, ERICENA intends to, step by step, increase the EU-China cooperation by providing assistance to EU organisations to identify and leverage the opportunities of the Chinese market, focus on fully implement its service portfolio and build a repertoire of success cases, set up a legal entity in China and build a team to manage the Centre’s activities, consolidate ERICENA’s presence in China through its network of partnerships and reach financial sustainability.

In 2018 the Centre will keep promoting intensively its service portfolio to build up its reputation as a bridge between Europe and China on STI.

In 2019 the project team will set up the Centre as an independent legal entity and will work on recruiting a management and operational team to manage the daily operations of the Centre, with the support of the consortium partners. Furthermore, the identification and selection of a first group of external service providers, acting in the name of ERICENA to provide services, will take place.

Ultimately, by the end of 2020, the Centre aims at becoming self-sustainable. The Centre will be the base for European innovation in China, providing a wide range of tailor-made and high-quality services and having a network of Chinese partners that over most of the relevant territory in mainland China.