DEVISE Lead partner, ERNACT (Ireland), celebrates a big achievement that will positively impact our project: the approval of the Innovation-as-a-Service (IaaS) proposal! Thanks to Interreg Europe-supported DEVISE project, ERNACT has identified the need for a project like IaaS and has carried out the necessary research, focusing their Regional Action Plan on it.
The IaaS project has been funded by Enterprise Ireland's Border Enterprise Development Fund (BEDF) and it will increase competitiveness and innovation in SMEs in the Irish Border Region, by increasing their use of disruptive technologies (including Industry 4.0) in manufacturing operations. As a result, IaaS can now provide a model for the EU’s Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) initiative, which aims to better connect local innovation hubs to European level competence centres (or centres of excellence) across Europe.
According to Jose Manuel San Emeterio, DEVISE Project Leader and Programme Manager at ERNACT, “DEVISE has provided us not only with a methodology to assess the current situation regarding the digital transformation of SMEs and ways of connecting the digital suppliers with companies as potential users of their services, but also with an invaluable pool of good practices from other EU regions that really input in our project idea” . The funding call from Enterprise Ireland came at the right time since ERNACT was in the process of developing the DEVISE action plan. "It was worthwhile the additional effort made to speed up the process and have it ready for submission on time”, adds San Emeterio.
European good practices that built ERNACT’s Action Plan
ERNACT got inspiration from several good practices from Belgium, France and Finland, that have been previously shared within the DEVISE partnership.
- Imec.icon (West Flanders - Belgium): this research programme it’s focused on demand-driven, cooperative research on hardware-, software- and combined hardware/software innovations. Imec inspired ERNACT in some different ways. Jose Manuel mentions “the collaboration and research tailored to the needs of the consortium partners, access to an extensive pool of expertise of academics and industry partners and a route to valorisation through the industry partners”.
- Apollo programme (Laval – France): it’s a programme to support companies in their innovation process by adapting methods usually used by startups. The Project Manager explains that the approach followed in the Apollo good practice was a very interesting input when carrying out the delivery and testing of the service to introduce disruptive digital technologies into the operations of the companies.
- Regional Manufacturing Digital Innovation Hub IoT-Compass (South Ostrobothnia – Finland): "when we were implementing the IaaS service, we noticed that some activities were of particular relevance”. He refers to the Digital Factory Academy, as a way of making the technologies and infrastructure available for companies to get to learn more of digital manufacturing and industrial internet and IoT Pilots, to implement company demand-driven pilots.
Colm Mc Colgan, ERNACT General Manager, added that, “this project is really exciting because it revolutionises the business model for introducing new technologies into SME’s. Using a combination of virtual reality and sophisticated collaboration software, manufacturing solutions being developed in Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology can be brought very quickly to local SMEs through the growing network of digital innovation hubs in the Border Region”.
The project will mobilise up to 12 hubs and nine universities / institutes of technology to target 120 manufacturing SMEs in the Border area over the next three years. It can also make a major contribution to realising the strategic plan, just released on 17 June by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, to allow the West and Border regions to compete economically with Dublin.