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DIGITAL INNOVATION HUBS AND COLLABORATIVE PLATFORM FOR CYBER-PHYSICAL SYSTEMS

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HUBCAP (DIGITAL INNOVATION HUBS AND COLLABORATIVE PLATFORM FOR CYBER-PHYSICAL SYSTEMS)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

HUBCAP builds on established DIHs in 7 European countries, each deeply embedded in its regional digital innovation ecosystem, and offering specialist expertise, experimental capabilities, and focused application domain knowledge in CPS Engineering. From this base, we create a growing and sustainable pan-European network that will offer SMEs opportunities to undertake experiments, seek investment and access expertise and training. This is enabled by a cloud-based open collaboration platform with a ‘sandbox’ capability to help potential users trial new CPS technology before investment.
There is growing demand for autonomous, secure CPSs that can interact with humans while respecting their privacy. This creates opportunities for SMEs in an ever-wider range of domains, but, in order to take them, businesses must leverage advances in engineering technology across sectors and regions.
European innovation in MBD has been world-leading for decades, but the entry barrier is high in terms of time and expertise, and the market for modelling and analytic tools is dominated by large actors. In order to realise the benefits of MBD for CPS as widely as possible, there is a need for:
• A network giving SMEs an easy entry route to MBD for CPS by accessing expertise in the technology and its industrial application
• Funding support for SMEs wanting to experiment with MBD technology
• An open collaboration platform that can be used to co-create, analyse and validate new CPS products in a virtual setting, where it is possible to test before investing. Such a platform must contain access to CPS solutions and enable users to experiment with solutions without having to make major in-house investments in skills or computing resources.
The network, support and platform must also offer a low barrier to innovators of new MBD tools as well as their users. HUBCAP will make MBD technology for CPS available to all, so that industry in Europe, in whichever sector.
The objectives are:
O1: To establish a network of DIHs that offer a comprehensive set of digital innovation services, including supporting businesses to experiment with MBD for CPSs; find investments and business opportunities; access to the innovation ecosystem across borders and DIHs; access skills and training.
O2: To bring together the innovation ecosystem for MBD of CPSs and embedded systems with over 1000 stakeholders from SMEs, technology providers, CPS experts and investors. All of them interacting with HUBCAP as a one-stop-shop for accessing MBD competencies, technologies, best practices, methods, business and funding opportunities, governed by a well-defined methodology for digital transformation in all industries.
O3: To upgrade capacity of SMEs to leverage MBD technology in CPS design.
O4: To enable collaboration by creating an open, cloud-based innovation platform that allows businesses to contribute and access assets needed to undertake using MBD for building CPS solutions on the scale required for SMEs. Assets will include both models and services. The assets will be available on a pay-per-use basis to allow businesses to manage their investment in MBD technology and to promote experimentation.
O5: To ensure sustainability by developing a credible business and exploitation plan for the (association community alliance no-profit commercial start-up) considering its role of mediator and broker among the community and the network of DIHs.
In the first half of the project we have produced an operational collaboration platform which has been populated. We have started establishing a network of DIHs supporting the HUBCAP ecosystem by producing value proposition canvases for diverse kinds of stakeholders in the ecosystem. The main technical innovation so far is the new sandbox capability inside the collaboration platform, which enables "test before invest" to the extreme because it permits a newcomer to MBD to try MBD tools and models directly from their internet browser without having to download and install anything locally. This is one of the initiatives to lower the barriers for newcomers.
The main results so far are:
• HUBCAP has undertaken a review of the services provided by the DIHs in the consortium in order to identify gaps and opportunities going forward. This has been followed up with an analysis of the value of the HUBCAP ecosystem from the perspective of different potential stakeholders in the ecosystem using value proposition canvases.
• Initial releases of the HUBCAP collaboration platform have been developed, including the new sandbox capability which has been developed from scratch alongside functionality based on an existing platform. The limits of what is possible in such a sandbox have been determined from both licensing and performance perspectives.
• Trials have been carried out with early versions of the collaboration platform in particular around the innovative sandbox capability with several MBD technologies provided by SMEs within the consortium. This has enabled initial population and validation of the collaboration platform.
• The programme of Open Calls (OCs) has proceeded whereby the consortium has a 3,2M€ fund to support SMEs interested in being a part of the HUBCAP ecosystem as suppliers of tools and models, or as innovators using the technology. Three types of call have been used to: attract suppliers of tools and models to the platform; encourage collaborative experimentation with MBD for CPSs; and larger-scale product innovation using the capabilities of the tools, model sand platform. 51 businesses have been assisted through the OCs, and the first consortia for experiments have been started up.
• The collaboration platform has been populated with assets that can be useful for starting up with MBD. In the reporting period assets have been produced to lower the barrier for newcomers to MBD. This also includes assisting the OC winners in getting their assets onto the collaboration platform.
• The identity, web and social media presence have been developed. Due to the Covid situation efforts were devoted to organising online substitutes for in-person meetings. Video assets and social media have been used to generate engagement with the OCs.
• Finally, from a leadership perspective, the coordination has included the organisation of plenary meetings, a technical review meeting after M9 and following that an amendment of the DoA based on valuable input received from reviewers.
The progress delivered by HUBCAP as an IA has been largely in the initiation of new support for the MBD ecosystem. The sandbox capability offered by the collaboration platform is in particular a very novel way of enabling “test before invest”, and which could be exploited well beyond the MBD domain on which HUBCAP is focussed.

In the remaining part of the project we intend to populate the HUBCAP collaboration to a significantly greater extent. This will naturally include assets offered by winners of the OCs but it is hoped also with external DIHs and additional MBD technology suppliers that are not SMEs. The target is to create a critical mass in the HUBCAP ecosystem which lays a foundation for its long-term sustainability. There are diverse routes to achieving this, which will be explored in the second half of the project. In addition, it is the target to further lower the barrier for MBD newcomers such that the initial investment needed to get into this kind of technology will be lowered.
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