Mayte Carracedo – I4MS Project Coordinator
Hi, my name is Mayte Carracedo. I’m working at FundingBox and also acting as a Coordinator of the I4MS coordination and support action.
Which are the challenges that I4MS is facing?
In this phase we are mostly focusing on trying to support underrepresented regions in Europe. The reason for this is because I4MS has been in the market for almost ten years, but still is not present in many regions in Europe. So during this phase we want to make an effort for I4MS to be well known in these countries.
On the other hand, one of the topics that we want to tackle is still awareness of digital transformation and its benefits. That said, we don’t want to focus entirely on increasing technology uptake, which although is very important in our initiative, but also balance this approach with providing the most information on the business perspective. Sometimes what we are feeling from the companies is that there is not really a willingness to apply technology because they don’t see the benefits of doing this. So we really try to create more awareness in a more balanced way between both a technology and a business perspective.
And finally we also are tackling topic of skills, because when we talk to SMEs, one of the challenges they are facing is finding operators with the right training. Again, when we develop technology sometimes we forget about this part. So we are also trying to compile information on which trainings they can endorse, so the SME owner can give the solution as a whole package. In this way, we are providing support both on the technology and the training around that technology.
How has I4MS involved the SMEs in its ecosystem?
In order to involve more SMEs and specifically target underrepresented regions, we decided to work with local partners. We realized that trying to contact SMEs in the European dimension just from an online approach is sometimes very difficult. So we decided to leverage local partners that can, firstly on their side, acquire knowledge on I4MS, so that they know what we do, what we are offering, also via our trainings. We call them the ‘I4MS contact points’, and indeed we’re always looking for I4MS contact points all around Europe. Once we empower them with knowledge on our branding and on our offer, we can really leverage their capacity to attract SMEs all around Europe.
Also events are a key activity. We try to be present at events on digital transformation, Industry 4.0, or all those places where people are talking about the digital transformation of manufacturing companies. Those might be our two main ways to attract SMEs.
What about the regions?
We are here today in Eurada as part of our strategy to involve more regions in our I4MS ecosystem. Why do we want to involve more regions? Through our cascade funding grants, we are supporting a number of companies all around Europe that in many cases are located in said regionsrunning successful application experiments, and might need further support.
So for us it’s important that the regions are aware of these experiments. Those companies that are behind the experiments really disseminate them, so they can attract all the companies trying to replicate this, but also maybe they can further support those companies in the full deployment of these technologies. We are also always talking about the alignment between the EU funding approach on Horizon and cascade funding, and the structural funds ,and how we can better find and align those kinds of funds. So this is the kind of narrative that we are trying to share with the regions at this type of event.