How to communicate and package good examples of SMEs having benefited from ERDF through regional calls for R&I collaborative projects, helping them to scale-up.
The practice was developed by DITECFER, the Cluster for Rail Technologies in Tuscany region and implemented - along the RECORD project - during the Study Visit organised in Tuscany. It is about pushing the dissemination and scale-up of results achieved through collaborative R&I projects co-funded by ERDF by SMEs of the Rail Supply Chain in the Tuscany region. It goes beyond the communication obligations deriving from ERDF funding and relates more to supporting the exploitation in terms of communication and marketing of the results achieved, covering a capacity gap usually affecting SMEs. DITECFER has learnt from its proximity to SMEs that this is a relevant topic for their competitiveness; the RECORD project has turned this into a more refined practice, also building more awareness on ERDF impact.
During the Study Visit the RECORD Partners and their Stakeholders were introduced - on the one side - to the ERDF policy instrument funding R&I collaborative projects and - on the other side - to the results of projects involving SMEs of the Rail Supply Chain and collaboration modalities.
Visiting and seeing Elfi - one of the target SMEs - the RECORD Partners could see a good example of communicate how a SME member of DITECFER Cluster, operating in the field of Electronics for Rolling Stock and Track-side systems, can participate in the region's ERDF calls having several projects running. All projects are collaborative ones, involving other SMEs and/or at least one large company.
They mainly consist in human resources necessary to continuously tailor to the scope, fine-tune and run the practice. This means skilled people, relationships, organisation time, delivery time and - then - few funds to organise - practically - the individual initiatives (e.g. bus rental, etc.).
Evidence of success
DITECFER Cluster is more and more taking care of SMEs having benefited from ERDF funds for R&I projects. The capacity they have shown on the territory in being co-funded for their innovative solutions is helping the Cluster to pre-select the right ones to be scaled up to European stage of competition, collaboration and of more complex R&I projects.
This has lead in one year to pass from 0 to 6 SMEs in European projects equal to +4,5M€ in exploitation of know-how built through ERDF.
Starting to work with a few SMEs must not be considered as a limit. It will help you better fine-tune the practice through experience and co-design. The results achieved will then leverage the practice with more SMEs that will follow.
Potential for learning or transfer
This can represent a good practice for regional clusters, that can help their SMEs in capitalising on the innovative know-how they have built thanks to ERDF co-funded projects. It is all about communicating and packaging - as value chain - these dynamic SMEs, their projects and solutions achieved for further scale-up and exploitation in the supply chain. This can take place via - e.g. - new projects at higher scale, integration of several solutions developed by other SMEs, meetings with foreign delegations.