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Fostering DIHs for Embedding Interoperability in Cyber-Physical Systems of European SMEs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DIH4CPS (Fostering DIHs for Embedding Interoperability in Cyber-Physical Systems of European SMEs)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2022-12-31

European enterprises are today confronted with increasingly global and dynamic markets and are consequently driven to reshape their strategies to meet the challenges of the 21st century with respect to competitiveness, productivity and sustainability. Data and information sourced from cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and embedded systems are increasingly viewed as a valuable asset, which can help companies tackle these challenges. When acquired and analysed appropriately they can give companies helpful insights into how their products are used and enable to better design and manufacture physical products, as well as create ideas for innovative product extension services designed to meet their customers’ real current needs.
DIH4CPS helps European enterprises overcome these innovation hurdles and establish Europe as a world leading innovator of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Creating an embracing, interdisciplinary network of DIHs and solution providers, focused on cyber-physical and embedded systems, interweaving knowledge and technologies from different domains, and connecting regional clusters with the pan-European expert pool of DIHs. Backed by the I-VLab, an experienced and well-established network organisation focused on Interoperability, DIH4CPS can innately build on an extensive existing network, add value to its existing knowledge transfer capabilities and guarantee the sustainability of the growing DIH network. DIH4CPS expands the already existing network and aims for creating an integrated platform for DIHs from different, especially digitally underdeveloped sectors and regions DIH4CPS will not only benefit the application experiments but also the individual DIHs by significantly complementing the regional investments made.
Supporting the Digitising European Industry Strategy that envisages that any business in Europe has access to a Digital Innovation Hub at ‘working distance’, the DIH4CPS vision is that every business in Europe, regardless of its industrial and geographical background, and no matter of what size can fully benefit from digital innovations. The DIH4CPS strategic and operational objectives described in the DoA.
The project started by preparing the network with the initial members to start providing the services, this study was done with the D-BEST model (the model was adapted for the project, to cover all the services needed), where it was possible to structure and organize each DIH and Service Providers to catalogue their services. After defining the network using the D-BEST model, the Customer Journey of each DIH was defined, in order to define the Unique Value Proposition of each one of the DIHs, and being able to identify the focus of each one.
The results of the D-BEST model supported the definition of the ontology that is being used to represent the network, with this ontology it is possible to model DIHs and their partners, modelling their competences related to Embedded and Cyber-Physical Systems, services, and skills. These allows supporting an SME to find a solution to the problem they have, searching for different topics, such as area, sector, technology, etc., being available on the Portal. The Portal is the navigation interface model to be used by users, already in operation for internal validation. Then, it was developed a network interoperability tool to assess and improve the interoperability network between DIHs and partners, based on an existing maturity model..
In the project, 11 Application Experiments were started with 11 DIHs, which started its development in M4, and at the end of this period it presented its prototype and submitted a deliverable by AE with a description of this prototype, which in the next period will be available on the portal for end users to search, for dissemination and for exploitation of those services. The first Open Call was launched, and as a result 12 new Application Experiments were started, which are currently running smoothly. In addition, 12 more DIHs were obtained for the project network, increasing the network to 24 DIHs and 66 members in total. The second Open Call is being prepared to open in September, where we intend to acquire another 8 DIHs to reach 32 DIHs in total.
All these results have a great impact in the project, since it enables to prepare the DIH4CPS network, and to use the intelligent navigation system for service catalogue demonstration. Starting M24, this will have a huge impact to the European SMEs, since it will give visibility and opportunity to share their solutions. This is already being made through our website, which have a big dissemination impact, reaching good number of visitors. Due to the great work done with the website, it is finalist at the .eu Webawards (https://webawards.eurid.eu/).
The exploration of the network is being defined and at a good pace, with the first delivery to be submitted to the M21, and at the end of this period the value proposition and generic business model was practically closed, missing the deliverable to be written. The definition of the business model is being defined with I-VLab, considering the current status of the entity. The network that is being prepared will be explored, such as the portal, services and support for the different entities of the network (DIHs, Service Providers and End Users).
The project is using the D-BEST model that has been developed in past projects, being a good result and brings great advantage. Yet, this model had some changed to fit the project objectives, more specifically to be the basis of the ontology. As for the ontology aims to support the portal in the search for a concrete service to solve the end user's need. This ontology brings progress to the state of the art, as it enables an intelligent search based on specific keywords, and provides an optimal solution, where it is possible to identify the competences, technologies, services offered and collaboration patterns. Currently, there are several online search systems, but ours focus on representing the network and enabling a personalized result and enabling greater user satisfaction.
The first Open Call project had a socio-economic impact on SMEs, by funding 12 experiments during the phase of greatest economic impact caused by COVID-19, and at the same time enabling these SMEs to improve their processes and provide new services, to adapt up to these difficult times. It enlarged the network of DIHs bringing four new countries to our network, being one of the project objectives to reach more underrepresented regions. This result strengthened the DIH network, increasing the number of members involved in the network and preparing the network to have an ever-greater impact in Europe. It is intended that the M24 start to put the network into operation, to be able to change and improve the business model so that the network can be sustainable after the project, when instantiated in I-VLab.
In terms of social implications, the project is concerned with ensuring that both in terms of GDPR and ethics, users are safeguarded. An Ethics Board was created, and surveys were made with the Application Experiments to identify ethics requirements that may imply that users do not have their rights protected, being an added value of the project to reach a state of ethical trust.
Snapshop of the DIH4CPS Portal being one of the main objectives of the project