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.
Thanks to the RECORD project, DITECFER (the Cluster for Rail Technologies in Tuscany region) has discovered how pushing the dissemination and scale-up of results achieved by its SMEs thanks to collaborative R&I projects co-funded by ERDF ROP Tuscany can be a key-support for their competitiveness, while delivering more awareness on ERDF impact.
During the Study Visit organised in Tuscany, in fact, DITECFER introduced the RECORD Partners and their Stakeholders to the results of projects co-funded by ERDF involving SMEs of the Rail Value Chain and to their collaboration modalities; this was done through visits at the companies’ premises, and the Partners saw in this a good example of ‘group communication’.
DITECFER turned this into a more refined practice covering a capacity-gap usually affecting SMEs, and now offers these SMEs a package composed by a possible set of tailored activities going beyond the communication obligations related to ERDF funding, supporting the exploitation of the results achieved in terms of communication and marketing. The DITECFER package can include:
-Communication to the press about the innovations
-Organisation of events to present the innovations to selected audiences
-Organisation of visits of foreign delegations to the SMEs’ premises
-Opportunity to participate in the yearly “DITECFER Railway Innovation Contest” and "ERCI Innovation Award"
-Promote the SMEs' participation in EU calls to exploit/develop the innovations towards higher TRLs.
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.