The ERNACT network, as DEVISE project lead partner, has developed an Action Plan to increase the uptake of disruptive technology solutions by manufacturing SMEs in the Border Irish region. The objective is to accelerate their competitiveness and innovation levels through one action in particular: Innovation as a Service (IaaS).

Jose Manuel San Emeterio, ERNACT Programme Manager and DEVISE Project Leader, explains that “this new approach is key to provide SMEs with access to innovation and technology knowledge beyond their local area, enabling them to address the twin threats of Brexit and Covid-19. We will use sophisticated digital collaboration services to better network and connect the Border region’s growing network of innovation hubs to technology providers (universities and institutes of technology) across the Border and West regions”.

The project will target 120 manufacturing SMEs in the Border region, engaging with them over three years to identify and test 60 new solutions of advanced digital technologies, eventually implementing 40. “This will have a positive impact on all 120 companies improving their ability to introduce new advanced processes into their businesses and innovation, productivity and entrepreneurial levels”, adds San Emeterio. Moreover, it will also improve the skill levels of employees.

IaaS will also bring benefits to 12 local digital hubs which will enhance their capacity to service SMEs in their catchment area enhancing their sustainability, reputation, range and quality of services. Furthermore, this approach will also improve the capacity and responsiveness of at least 14 knowledge providers (Institutes of Technology, Universities, and the private sector) offering them new channels where to supply high tech solutions to SMEs by stimulating demand, raising awareness of their offerings and, crucially, putting new systems and processes in place to facilitate effective collaboration with the hubs and SMEs.