Provision of a Regional Catalogue of qualified services for SMEs eligible for funding through ROP ERDF measures, including Audit 4.0 for the digital transition.
In programming period 2007-2013, the Tuscan Regional Authority developed a “catalogue” on advanced and qualified services for SMEs to support innovation and competitiveness. Services are listed and codified, also identifying requirements for service providers.
The catalogue is published with a call for proposals (ROP ERDF) providing co-financing to SMEs to support the purchase of qualified services
Scope of the catalogue is:
Rationalise the system of technology transfer, to avoid widespread uncertainty about types of services facilitating innovation in SMEs;
support the demand for qualified services in SMEs, in the long-term process of organisational change and increased competitiveness;
select, qualify and open up the services market for businesses.
The catalogue includes more than 40 services divided into 3 thematic areas:
A. Basic services, such as audit and assessment of SMEs potential and feasibility studies
B. Advanced services, such as support to technological innovation in products/processes, ICT integration, business innovation, certifications and IPR
In 2018, a spin-off call for services was launched to support Audit and assessment 4.0 in SMEs to:
• Promote technological, organisational and socio-economic change in I4.0 for SMEs
• Support integration of digital technologies in the regional production system,
• tackle issues related to specialised skills, technical and vocational training, and higher education
The average cost of the required services is around 45K€, funded at 50% with ERDF. In the specific case of the audit 4.0 (which include the development of a SME’s digital transformation plan), the whole cost must be in the range 5-20K€
Evidence of success
In the first 5 years, Call for Services supported more than 2.500 SMEs (>80M€). Currently, the use of calls for services has become common practice for SMEs. It is periodically re-proposed with great success: usually has a whole budget of around 1.5-3M€.
It represents a source of information and guidance for setting up a process of innovation, and the reference document for all the regional R&I calls: subcontractors can be funded only if their services respect the catalogue’s criteria.
The real challenge was to create the Catalogue and make it part of the culture of entrepreneurs. It is easy now to launch calls for "thematic" services as it happened in 2018 with the specific call for funding Audit and Assessment 4.0 in SMEs carried out by external experts.
Potential for learning or transfer
It is easily transferrable to any EU region. The Catalogue, evaluation parameters and the financial resources allocated can be adjusted to local characteristics.
A phase of study is essential to ensure that the final product is fully consistent with the local context, local SMEs, and their needs.
Each service could include:
• a complete description of related contents and objectives,
• examples of potential application,
• requirements of the service supplier/provider (e.g. qualification of consultants, skills, years of experience, needed certifications, etc),
• expected results (e.g. documents, technical reports, studies, etc.)
The form can be completed with the following information:
- expected duration of the service
- cost limits
- co-financing percentage
- specific requirements according to the SME dimensions (micro, small or medium)
For the call Audit 4.0, the regional Platform for I4.0 provides a self-evaluation toolkit, to measure the maturity level in I4.0.