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Boosting Widening Digital Innovation Hubs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BOWI (Boosting Widening Digital Innovation Hubs)

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

The key objective of the BOWI project is to create a DIH widening network that supports the collaboration of new DIHs in regions where the SAE (https://smartanythingeverywhere.eu/) and I4MS (https://i4ms.eu/) technologies are underrepresented (proto-hubs) and DIHs that are well established and highly experienced in these technologies (mature hubs).

BOWI project is addressing the challenges created by the lack of knowledge, expertise and other capacities regarding SAE/I4MS technologies in European industries during the past 7 years. BOWI supports proto-hubs and SMEs/Mid-Caps by uptaking innovative SAE and I4MS related technologies, with the help provided by mature DIHs and the mechanism that will work as a tool in establishing a sustainable connection and collaboration between all stakeholders mentioned above.

BOWI pursues the following objectives within the project:
1. Establish an active DIH (BOWI) widening community in which the emerging proto-hubs can access the pool of expertise available in mature hubs in order to set up collaboration in application experiments with SMEs. This includes participation from mature hubs, investors and regions, as well as proto-hubs.
2. Develop a long-term sustainable blended finance accelerator programme to enable support for proto-hubs on their journey to become a high-quality boosters of the uptake of SAE/I4MS technologies in their regions.
3. Increase sustainability of proto-hubs by improving their business and technology services, as well as by creating pan-EU collaborations with mature DIHs in other regions.
4. Enhance the capacity of taking up SAE/I4MS technologies in regions that are currently underrepresented by conducting 4 technology-transfer experiments with each selected proto-hub.
5. Demonstrate a structural collaboration between proto-hubs and mature hubs by showing replicable cross-border widening approach. The proto-hubs will improve their services to the industry not only by developing business models for importing/exporting services, but also by aligning activities in both hubs. This is achieved through combining concrete experiments and creating a sustainable corridors between regions.

In summary, the specific objectives of BOWI are:
• Establishing an active DIH widening community with 25 proto-hubs and 20 mature hubs as active members, and 450 organizations as active users of the community collaboration portal. Sustainable widening collaboration business model is validated through continuous long-term blended finance accelerator programme.
• Ensuring that 15 proto-hubs offering I4MS/SAE technology for SMEs/Mid-Caps in their regions, have developed business-models and business services portfolios as well as secure additional regional funding.
• Conducting 60 technology-transfer experiments supporting SMEs/Mid-Caps to take up innovative proto-hub SAE/I4MS technologies in their regions, assisted by mature hubs in other regions.
The main objectives for 2020 were:
● Successfully kick of the project and establish the needed infrastructure and procedures, e. g. organize kick of meeting and plan the year ahead and agree on working principles. On top of that, agree on BOWI network’s visual identity and roll out the website as well as online community.
● Develop methodology for pairing mature and widening hubs for mentorship and service provision activities in the ways of strongest long-term collaboration potential.
● Prepare and launch the 1st Open Call and select the SMEs for an initial batch of TTEs.
● Debrief on the first lessons learned and apply them in organizing the Second Open Call for widening hubs.

The greatest success in 2020 was good matching of hubs that lead to smooth and active collaboration effort and timely TTE selection that so far did not not indicate any issues. On top of that, consortium has learned a lot throughout the year as we have extremely experienced consortium members; this led to very productive advancement towards BOWI’s objectives and ever-increasing performance of the project.
Bottom line, it is a 3.5 years project with a great scope of preparatory action in the year 1. We accomplishment of the aforementioned objectives has lead to a strong basis to pursue the strategic goal of BOWI to develop sustainable corridors in between European regions by pairing mature and proto hubs for a long-lasting partnerships.

The main objectives for 2021 were:
● The 2nd Open Call for developing DIHs was closed on the 1st of March, 2021 and 35 developing hubs from 15 countries have applied for this open call. 9 developing hubs were selected to participate in cross-border technology transfer together with well established, i.e. mature DIHs and contributed to organization and delivery of the 3rd Open Call for the next batch of TTEs.
● Before the 17th of September 2021 all mature hubs interested in becoming part of the BOWI network could apply and have the opportunity to become service providers. Selected Mature DIHs (9 in total) and the ones already part of the BOWI network (9 developing DIHS) will collaborate supporting SMEs in the implementation of their Technology Transfer Experiments by delivering technology and business transfer services jointly.
● At the end of 2021 Open Call 3 was launched. The experiment proposals were welcome till 16th of February, 2022 from SMEs and Midcaps that have proven long term business activity and operate in one of the 9 widening regions. 175 applications have been submitted for this Open Call and 36 new companies will be selected to start BOWI support programme in May 2022 and will receive support from their local widening and mature hubs.
Initiatives of building corridors in between the regions are incidental and do not lead to a vibrant and sustainable activity beyond the initial event. In BOWI, if we achieve the structured long-lasting collaborations via sustainable corridors in between DIHs, we would achieve such regional impact as:
- increased uptake of SAE/I4MS technologies in widening regions;
- increased business competitiveness in widening regions;
- increased innovation capacity in widening regions;
- new international business channels for established mature hubs and emerging proto-hubs.
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