28/11/2022 - DigiFed: SMEs and the Cross-Border Digital Innovation Hubs

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DigiFed (an EU-funded project launched in 2020 for 3 years) is seeking to create the most impactful mechanism to aid the creation of value and a competitive edge for European SMEs and mid-caps.

Application Experiment AE is the main cascade funding pathway proposed by DigiFed that selects and finances SMEs and mid-caps for the development of CPS solutions based on existing or to-be-developed prototypes and products. A European team presented the evaluation results and success rate of collaborative projects (TWIN AE) against those originating from individual organizations (SINGLE AE) at the DigiFed application stage. The DigiFed consortium relies on a network of 12 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and Research Technology Organizations (RTOs) to design and experiment with novel innovation support mechanisms for SMEs across Europe.

“The three open calls conducted under DigiFed have created a balanced portfolio of AE types (21 SINGLE projects emerging from a single organization and 23 TWIN for collaborative projects)”, explains Isabelle Chartier (CEA-Leti) who, within Nanoelec, coordinates the French node of DigiFed. “The smaller companies (1-10 employees) had a consistently higher success rate in terms of proposal applications for TWIN AE. Equally, companies with a lower digitalization maturity level are more likely to apply for the collaborative AE (TWIN).

It is also remarkable that AE appeals mainly to smaller companies, as 90% of applicants are <51 employees, and that large SMEs (51-3000 employees) only apply for TWIN AE, in which the tools foster collaboration between very small and mid-size SMEs.”

Through Nanoelec, CEA-Leti, STMicroelectronics – in collaboration with the EasyPOC program from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional authority – proposed the “Secure Platform for IoT” building block for open call AEs. Two projects that requested this block were selected for funding: Segway headed by Cysec, a Swiss cybersecurity SME, and Tracklog headed by NGS, an Italian SME focused on industrial monitoring and smart logistics.

MARGHERITA VOLPE, ISABELLE CHARTIER, ISABELLE DOR & AL.
EXPERIMENTATION OF CROSS-BORDER DIGITAL INNOVATION HUBS (DIHS) COOPERATION AND IMPACT ON SME SERVICES
PRO-VE Conference, St Etienne, November 2021