The interregional cooperation project, which kicked off last October in Prato (Italy), aims at establishing a common basis for policy learning among its members in order to deal with the main challenges hampering the diffusion of Industry 4.0 solutions and their enabling potential into the European SME ecosystem.

Seven European regions have joined forces to face a common challenge: supporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in their awareness and adoption of Industry 4.0 solutions through regional policies and programs related to Structural Funds.The fourteen partners of SMARTY aim to trigger a policy change that will uphold Industry 4.0 as the new paradigm to drive industrial development in the coming years.

To this end, SMARTY will implement interregional learning activities to identify, analyse and share solutions which have already been tested in one of the participating regions and that can help in the innovation processes of other partners’ regional industrial systems. These exchanges of experience will take place at the Interregional Thematic Seminars and Interregional Policy Brokerage workshops organized by the project on a semester basis, which will cover key topics such as Production Performance Monitoring Systems (PPMS), Predictive modeling and maintenance, Virtual Reality and Simulation Technologies, and Smart logistics and network management. The learning potential embedded in these interregional exchanges will result in the uptake of new good practices and projects by the partners, thus enabling the delivery of innovation within regional supply chains.

European cooperation to promote innovation

We need to build the capacity of the public administrations around Europe to help SMEs to embrace the Industry 4.0 revolution.

“The fourth industrial revolution is of course not just a matter of technology, it is also a matter of cooperation between European regions. The uptake of advanced manufacturing solutions is still a challenge to SMEs: only one in five manufacturing companies have already used advanced manufacturing solutions. We need to build the capacity of the public administrations around Europe to help SMEs to embrace the Industry 4.0 revolution,” says Besnik Mehmeti, project coordinator for SMARTY.

A total of fourteen partners from seven European countries participate in the project, with the Municipality of Prato (Italy) as the lead partner. The consortium came together in Prato in October for the project’s kick-off meeting, where the first actions were discussed, as well as the overall work plan, exchange of experience activities and communication activities. The next step will be the first Interregional Thematic Seminar, which will be held in Brussels, Belgium, in February 2020.

SMARTY is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the umbrella of the European Union programme Interreg Europe with around 1.99 M EUR ERDF (2.42 M EUR Total Budget). It runs over a period of four years and started on 1st of August, 2019.