Periodic Reporting for period 3 - ERICENA (European Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence in ChiNA)
Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31
In that context, the EU has launched, through Horizon 2020, a pilot initiative to setup a network of centres in Brazil, China and USA that would help connect and support European companies and research and technology organisations to those markets.
These centres were expected to rely upon a business model that would ensure its financial sustainability in the longer term while building upon existing EU Member States-related initiatives already in place in those markets.
For China, the ERICENA project (European Research and Innovation Centre of Excellence in China) was approved under Horizon 2020 with the purpose of setting up this centre in China. ERICENA project was implemented by a consortium of 13 organisations, from different EU Members States and from China, all of them with a consolidated know-how and experience in the Chinese market.
As a broader outcome of a collaborative action between ERICENA and its two sister projects for Brazil and USA (CEBRABIC and NearUS, respectively), the common brand of ENRICH was created to embrace the centres. ENRICH stands for European Network of Research and Innovation Centres and Hubs. The specific centre created in China was then named as ENRICH in China.
This ENRICH brand became a protected trademark at the European level and allowed for ENRICH in China to start is operation through the setup of a Project Office in Beijing, at the EU SME Centre facilities in October 2017, and of a Liaison Office in Brussels, at the EBN facilities, in April 2018 – on another collaborative action between ERICENA, CEBRABIC and NearUS.
ERICENA was substantially impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a collaborative project with China, it was one of the first initiatives that needed to cope with the restrictions arising from the pandemic, which led to a severe decrease in the income generated by ENRICH in China in 2020 and also prevented the completion of the full separation process between the project (ERICENA) and the centre (ENRICH in China), as the recruitment of personnel and the setup of an independent legal entity could not be completed within the project time frame.
Nevertheless, at the end of ERICENA project, ENRICH in China can be considered to be a recognizable and trustful brand among the actors of both European and Chinese innovation and business community, having built in the last 4 years an extensive track record of successful and high-quality services and activities delivered to a comprehensive group of stakeholders, partners and clients.
With the support of ERICENA project, ENRICH in China was able to mobilize and engage the European and Chinese innovation and business communities, fostering mutual interaction and, acting as a facilitator, to promote new business opportunities and research and innovation collaborative projects.
Therefore, and despite the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ERICENA managed to lay the foundations for the continuity of ENRICH in China operation, services and activities, even beyond the project lifetime frame.
WP1 to WP5 encompassed the initial stage of the centre - intended to lay the strategic and business foundations for the centre’s operation. Each of these WP corresponded to a different pillar of what would be the centre’s business plan. WP1 focused on the market analysis and competition assessment; WP2 addressed the centre’s strategic vision and business model; WP3 focused on the marketing and promotional requirements of the centre, while WP4 and WP5 addressed the needs and requirements of the centre on operational aspects (infrastructure, human resources, etc.) and financial terms.
The key outputs achieved in this stage were the launch of the centre’s Project Office in Beijing, at the EU SME Centre facilities in October 2017 and a full business plan for the operation of the centre.
WP6 was entirely dedicated to the services of the centre. It started with the definition of the service portfolio, followed by its gradual implementation –from a pilot stage into a full operation stage. The service portfolio comprised 7 service categories: RDI Consultancy and Coaching; STI RDI Intelligence; Innovation Support Certification; Soft Landing and Co-working; Fostering Open Innovation through Training; Cooperation Enabling Events; and RDI Briefings.
During the pilot stage, some of the key outputs achieved included the launch of the Liaison Office in Brussels, at the EBN facilities, in April 2018 and the trademark protection of ENRICH in China, enforced at the European level through a successful EUIPO application.
At the full implementation stage (January 2019 – December 2020), the centre moved into a full deployment of its service portfolio and into the consolidation of a community of stakeholders, that included Regional Hubs, Soft Landing Zones, External Service Providers and Members.
At the end of ERICENA, and after the successful completion of 100 services, approximately, the project managed to mobilize more than 2.000 participants to its different services and activities, including webinars, workshops and missions to China, encompassing participants from all EU Members States, and managed to recruit as well more than 20 stakeholders for the ENRICH in China community, considering all categories of engagement. This entire range of activities resulted in a total income of more than 77.000 euros.
ENRICH in China has significantly contributed for a higher visibility of European research and innovation, as well as its players, in the Chinese ecosystem. Currently, ENRICH in China is recognised by the quality of the services provided, being in the forefront of innovation and international cooperation. ENRICH in China is now a strong brand, developed and built during the past four years, considered a facilitator and gateway to the Chinese market, with regards to Research and Innovation. This reputation has enabled ENRICH in China to establish a significant community, including Regional Hubs, Soft Landing Zones, External Service Providers and Members, a sign of confidence and trustworthiness of ENRICH in China as a reliable partner. This is also reflected in the more than 3.000 followers in social media pages and subscribers to the newsletters.
Aligned with the aforementioned points, ENRICH in China has built a solid ground for the future, with regards to the promotion European research and innovation in the Chinese market. Europe is now better prepared for future cooperation and partnerships with Chinese counterparts, thanks to the efforts of the implementing partners of ERICENA and all stakeholders involved in the initiative.