CORDIS - EU research results

Test an innovative support scheme for manufacturing SMEs and accelerate the use of RCTs in innovation agencies

Project description

Helping SMEs embrace digital technologies

The 4Manufacturing initiative is a revolutionary new approach developed in partnership with industry to help manufacturers, and particularly SMEs, understand and adopt digital technologies. It has now been deployed by 230 SMEs across the UK, supporting productivity, competitiveness and growth. The EU-funded RCT4MANU project proposes the use of the randomised control trial (RCT) method to evaluate the impact of digital technologies on SMEs. As a result, SMEs will build much more rigorous evidence for the value of this programme of innovation agency experimentation – 4Manufacturing. What’s more, project partners aspire to demonstrate the value of RCTs as a powerful tool for future policy implementation evaluation.


This proposal outlines a programme of innovation agency experimentation supported by randomised control trials (RCTs). It focuses on the example of an innovation support initiative the partners have developed & piloted called “4Manufacturing®”. This initiative aims to support the very current topic of “industrie 4.0”: in particular it tackles the “diffusion” & adoption of industrial digitisation technologies (IDTs) by manufacturing SMEs. 4Manufacturing® appears to be highly promising based on 230 SME engagements and great appetite from regional stakeholders. It is innovative in the way that it provides a means of supporting the deployment of innovation in a manner that is structured (eg. utilising quantitative measures of adoption (attainment levels) around 22 themes). Thereby 4Manufacturing® appears to offer the potential for scale-up and enhanced return on the investment of public monies in this topic. Through this programme, and RCTs in particular, the agencies involved intend to build much more rigorous evidence for the value of this approach, and refine our understanding regarding how to refine & scale the initiative up.
The findings will also facilitate the deployment of the same approach in other thematic areas, and/or particular sectors, and other geographies (eg. across the EU).
More broadly still, the partners hope, through the programme, to learn how they can be more effective in experimenting the way they deliver innovation support, demonstrating the value of RCTs as a powerful tool for future policy implementation and evaluation. A key part of the programme is the dissemination (utilising the partners’ strong connections and experience disseminating across Europe) of the learnings across the EU to enable other innovation agencies likewise to experiment, using an evidence-based approach, and ultimately deliver more effective innovation support with improved returns on public investment.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 191 262,50
SN2 1FL Swindon
United Kingdom

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South West (England) Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area Swindon
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 191 262,50

Participants (1)