The I4MS initiative (ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs) of the European Commission is one of the European networks and has started its Phase 1 in July 2013 and continued with Phase 2 in autumn 2015 (total funding nearly 110 Mn EUR) with the aim to support SMEs and mid-caps in the manufacturing sector along three dimensions:
- Provide access to competences that can help in assessing, planning and mastering the digital transformation.
- Provide access to innovation networks of a broad spectrum of competences and best practice examples.
- Provide fi nancial support to SMEs and mid-caps on the demand and the supply side to master the digital transformation.
The basic idea is to enable and foster the collaboration of manufacturing SMEs and mid-caps across their value chains through the help of European competence centres/innovation hubs (such as HPC centres, top universities, application oriented research organisations) in predominantly cross-border experiments to create a win-win situation for all actors.
In those focused experiments of short duration brokerage and transfer of know-how and technology are provided by the innovation hubs to the SMEs and mid-caps. I4MS therewith resolves the competence gap of SMEs at the same time providing them with the fi nancial means to adopt leading edge technology such that they are capable to bring innovative and highly competitive new products and services to the market.
Innovative suppliers profit from I4MS as the experiments enable them to mature their existing technologies and to broaden the field of their application ultimately opening them new markets and services. The competence centres benefi t from the initiative, as they extend their largely research oriented activities with industrial projects thereby gaining a new sustainable business model.