In July 2013, the European Commission launched Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4Ms): a new 77 million Euro innovation initiative for the manufacturing sector - in particular its high-tech small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) - to profit from the latest advances in ICT.
I4MS aims at the wider and faster adoption of ICT to modernise Europe's manufacturing capabilities. It supports the crossing of the "valley of death" – also called the Chasm – in the technology adoption process: For users, the aim is to reduce the risk in being an early adopter of advanced technology bringing a clear competitive advantage. For suppliers, the aim is to help them open up new markets with innovative solutions and establish or broaden the relevant customer base.
The network of competence centres and innovation multipliers allows for a dissemination that is targeted at sectors, regions, or applications. It will capitalise on the critical mass of actions and experiences and seek to replicate successes contributing to the emergence of an "early majority" of adopters.
Experiments are implemented with the help of pan-European networks of competence centres providing the knowledge and support for partnering beyond national boundaries. Companies interested will have the opportunity to apply to Calls for Experiments (more tha 150), launched by these centres in 2014 and 2015, in the next 3 years starting from July onwards.
About 200 SMEs across Europe are foreseen to participate in I4MS, roughly half of them being innovative suppliers of ICT, and the other half being early adopters of ICT innovations. SMEs will benefit in three ways:
- direct financial support to improve their products or manufacturing processes,
- acquiring new technologies and knowledge,
- access to new markets and partners outside their local ecosystem.
The I4MS-GATE network of innovation supports projects in 4 areas:
- Advanced robot solutions: EUROC
- HPC Cloud-based simulation services: FORTISSIMO, CLOUDSME, CLOUDFLOW
- Intelligent Sensor based Equipment: INTEFIX
- Innovative Laser Applications: LASHARE, APPOLO
Please see the event Fostering Digital Industrial Innovation in Europe for more details on the monitoring of the I4MS initiative.