Adapt and evolve calls towards better I4.0 concept implementation, influencing SME’s to adopt new technologies, organization and management methods.
This best practice is a demonstration that evolving requirements in calls can influence positively the evolution and adaptation of SMEs. The rationale is that setting requirements for SMEs to achieve the best classification for selections purposes, has a side effect as projects are adapted to those new circumstances.
With each new Call, and each new revision of the requirements, the SMEs adapted and improved their projects to better respond to those requirements.
This approach started, regarding Industry 4.0 requirements, with the Voucher I 4.0 call in 2017, where SME’s submitted projects in order to diagnose their condition, and what was needed to evolve and modernize. The next step was adapting Innovation Calls to include (not only, but also) I4.0 concepts as determining factor of valuation for a project, a process which will end, at least in this Programming Period (2014-2020) with the I4.0 Referential, also considered as good practice.
The evolutive approach enabled 13 different calls encompassing vouchers, innovation and qualification calls, each with specific requisites, either proposing a diagnosis of the SMEs, promoting their digitization by having better scores on merit criteria, when I4.0 was addressed, or better incentive rates, as in the final call considering the last referential.
The evolutive approach enticed the SMEs to adopt new solutions, design better oriented projects, promote their digitization and therefore the adoption of the Industry 4.0 concepts.
13 calls1.335 MEuros
Evidence of success
It’s hard to define the degree of success at this time, but 13 calls involving around 5.700 different projects, and having selected 2.200, with a total eligible investment of 3.578 MEuros and 1.335 MEuros of incentive is a clear sign that change is needed, and SMEs embrace each opportunity to invest in that change.
The main results will only be know in the 2022-23 time frame, as it will be then that many, if not all, of these projects will come to a close, and only then it will be possible.
Potential for learning or transfer
The decision to direct and influence the development of industries towards new concepts and technologies has always been a tool available to governments, either by promoting direct foreign investment, or local investment on specific industrial sectors or fiscal policies that influence investments.
Adjusting calls to promote a subject, in this case Industry 4.0, is a more discrete tool, and broader in its effects, not only because it’s not directed to a specific economic sector, but to all. It’s directed to the implementation of a concept, of digitising the SME’s, modernizing them and adapting the concept to their needs, and not adapting the SME’s to the concept. This sort of social/economic engineering intends to direct the SME’s to a more advanced type of modernization or, as we found in some cases, just renaming their efforts, as they were already adopting the I 4.0 concepts.
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