Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


XS2I4MS Report Summary

Project ID: 678860

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - XS2I4MS (Access to I4MS)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-02-28

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Being one of the major trends today, digitization is considered one of the key innovations to enhance the competitiveness of the European industry. However, studies show that the uptake of digitization is complex, both because of lack of understanding and the fact that we are just in the beginning of the digitization transition that will change the character of the industry at large.
The I4MS strategy is an initiative promoted by the European Commission to support the European leadership in manufacturing through the adoption of these advanced ICT technologies in industry. Europe's competitiveness in the sector depends on its capacity to deliver highly innovative products, where the innovation often originates from advances in ICT. Therefore, I4MS aims at promoting leading-edge technologies in the areas of robotics, HPC cloud based simulation services, laser based applications, and Cyber Physical Systems and Internet of Things. I4MS specially focuses on SMEs and mid-caps to address their needs to access to technology, infrastructures and new markets. A core element of the I4MS strategy is the support of so-called Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs). These multi-actor consortia are considered key in crossing the valley of death by sharing technological infrastructure and their highly skilled personnel.
Creating a Europe-wide momentum for the uptake of digitization and creating a dynamic and vibrant ecosystem in all Member States will require DIHs in different regions. However, establishing new I4MS DIHs is complex, associated with risk, and requires a pan-European approach where existing DIHs and experienced organizations can help. At the same time, these DIHs are considered crucial mechanisms to efficiently and effectively support the industry with the uptake of digitization technologies.
The XS2I4MS project is one of the Coordination Support Actions to advance the I4MS ecosystem and expand its coverage in Europe. Its impact is increased quality and size of the I4MS ecosystem, innovation uptake, matching supply and demand of ICT-based manufacturing. Core to XS2I4MS is the I4MS Mentoring Program which supports organizations to create new DIHs and establish I4MS presence in regions that showed little attention to digitization. The objective of the XS2I4MS project is threefold:
•To organize the I4MS Mentoring program and support the mentored projects with more general training on how to further develop their DIH, where the Innovation Actions support the individual projects with insights on the I4MS technologies with hands on experiences.
•To create an overview on I4MS related activities in Europe and analyze issues with regard to digitization in the manufacturing industry, as well as create more insight in the financing and brokerage on digitization and DIHs.
•Develop a web based platform to exchange experiences and facilitate the networking on the I4MS mentoring program.
The XS2I4MS consortium presents a strong mix of organizations to realize excellence and impact. Three large European applied research organizations, TNO, Fraunhofer and VTT, have as their core business transfer of technologies to manufacturing. The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) is specialized to scale up advanced manufacturing technologies and has a dedicated Training Centre. Brainport Development has a major role to support high-tech SME start-ups in developing business plans, and accessing finance for growth.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Core to the XS2I4MS project is the Mentoring program. In this program, 29 consortia were selected to be supported to create a feasibility study for the establishment of a DIH in their region. The work of the XS2I4MS project included the organization of a Call for tender, the selection of the projects to be supported and the general training with regard to some non-technical competences. To facilitate the Mentoring program and create a more sustainable information base for new initiatives, an expert website was developed that provides information for both the selected projects and interested third parties. More general information was collected on suppliers and users of digitization technologies and the issues that SMEs are struggling with, as well as an assessment of how to organize brokerage in a DIH. A summer school was organized at MTC to allow the demonstration of actual technological infrastructures.
Complementary to the Mentoring program activities, a list of Demonstrators available for digitization is developed, as well as factsheets on digitization technologies. Also dissemination activities have been conducted, including the co-organization of the I4MS annual event.
The work carried out by the consortium during the first 18 months has followed the work plan, structured in the following Work-Packages:
WP1 Innovation Portal providing the core technological and information infrastructure to create the I4MS ecosystem by providing a wide range of services to the I4MS community.
WP2 I4MS Observatory providing a strong information base on relevant platforms, suppliers and users of technology
WP3 Sharing Best Practices and Dissemination aimed at integrating the activities on best practices related to the application of new technologies in manufacturing SMEs and to disseminate these to the I4MS community.
WP4 Brokerage aimed at assessing the needs of SMEs which can be used for suitable matchmaking at technological level and to find financing opportunities, assisting the DIHs to create effective technology transfer mechanisms, and providing information on funding opportunities to the I4MS community
WP5 Mentoring and Coaching for Regional Innovation Hubs aimed at extending and enhancing the I4MS Ecosystem to include new regions in the I4MS programme.
WP6 Management and Coordination which is aimed at ensuring the smooth running of the project.
During the first reporting period, the work of the XS2I4MS project resulted in 10 Deliverables.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The XS2I4MS project will act as a catalyst for enhancing in a sustainable way the adoption of ICT in manufacturing. The expected longer-term impact lays beyond the influence of the consortium, as its target groups are not the consortium partners, but 1) the broader I4MS community and the DIHs and 2) the I4MS projects. So the project activities are not only focused on the direct outputs to support the community and the I4MS projects, but also will create deliverables that aim at the increase of the use of those outputs by the target groups.
The work planned in the framework of the XS2I4MS project aims to:
•Increase awareness of the broader EU I4MS community (new users, technology suppliers and service providers).
•Increase the quality and the size of the I4MS innovation ecosystem, notably through supporting the establishment of a network of DIH.
•Foster innovation uptake and application of I4MS opportunities.
•Support the further creation of the I4MS brand as core to the European strategy for ICT integration in the manufacturing industry, e.g. by the use of I4MS webinars.
•The projects supported during the Mentoring program will produce business plans that provide an overview of the results and challenges that the consortia will face to actually create a DIH. The lessons learned and challenges will be analyzed and translated into a set of policy recommendation for policy to support the development of DIHs and the future development of a pan-European DIH network.

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