The EU funded project “Digital Innovation Hubs Federation For Large Scale adoption of digital technologies by European SMEs” announces the results of its third and final call for applications to the Application Experiment: 14 projects of the 71 eligible proposals will receive a total of over 1.1 million euro to develop their smart applications.
In its most recent effort to engage European SMEs and midcaps in its innovation programme, DigiFed is pleased to announce the results of the project’s 3rd Open Call launched on the 16th of March 2021.
Out of the 71 eligible proposals (see figure 1), 14 were selected involving 24 companies from across Europe (see figure 2) to receive financial, technical and innovation management support for the creation of smart applications that help digitise European Industry.
In line with Open call 2 trend, most of the selected Application Experiments are “Twin” – 71% (+15% respect to OC2), meaning that two partner companies from two different countries applied together and will each receive up to 50 k€ Cascade funding for supporting their project, while DigiFed will support with business innovation expertise. Among these, 2 proposals were selected within the Low Digital Twin AE category, a new kind of AE introduced for experimentation under OC3 and aimed at encouraging applications involving at least one company with very low levels of digitalization in its processes and products, and willing to experiment relevant digitalization opportunities. In this configuration, besides cascade funding support, companies were also allowed to request the complementary technical support of one DigiFed partner.
The remaining 29% of the selected projects applied for the “Single” Application Experiment type – meaning that a single applying company will receive, alongside Cascade funding up to 50k€, technical and business expertise from DigiFed to support their project.
Furthermore, the majority of funded of projects were from Small SMEs (42%) and Start-ups (17%) (see figure 3). The sectors in which the selected projects operate include: Industry 4.0, Agritech, Health, Transportation, Manufacturing, Construction and Water management (see figure 4).
All proposals were evaluated in a first phase by the independent experts and in a second phase by the DigiFed team. The winning 14 projects to be carried out by the 24 selected companies are scheduled to start by November-December 2021 at the latest.
The overall budget distributed for the third DigiFed open call is 1,16 M€, with the largest share going to applicants based in Spain, followed by France, Ireland, Italy and Portugal (see Figure 5).
DigiFed is dedicated to supporting EU industries to digitalise their product & services and reach new markets enabled by Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) & Embedded Systems. Over the 3 open calls, DigiFed promoted a total of 44 projects, fostering alliances between 71 SMEs to demonstrate the potential of CPS digital technologies (a DigiFed AE Portfolio page with further details will be available on the website soon).
In the coming months, the consortium will analyse in detail the trends and dynamics emerging over the course of the three Open calls launched since March 2020, but some preliminary considerations suggest that the path proposed (i.e. Single AE and Twin AE) were successful in addressing the full target audience of SME and Mid-caps, with some preference for small SMEs and Start-ups for Single AEs, whereas Twins AE allowed for more heterogeneous collaborations among different type of companies (see Figure 6).
Over the 3 open calls, the majority of selected companies pertaining to low digitalized sectors (according to EU Digital Intensity Index) consistently constituted the major subset, with a total average of 45% of selected companies. The results confirm DigiFed’s contribution towards the digitalisation of sectors that have so far been poorly exposed to the benefits of digitalisation. The most recurrent sectors among applicants and selected AEs is summarized in the following graph (Figure 7). The sectors requesting most support are linked to “Industry 4.0”, and “software/IT/AI”.
The top five countries with the most successful applicants over all AE open calls were Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Slovenia, however, DigiFed continues to incentivise cooperation among digital hubs all over Europe to make those technologies and know-how available to all European SMEs.