The support of SMEs has been recognised as one of the most difficult and demanding actions within OMI. To provide this support reasonably and effectively in view of research and development activities with the objective to increase the SME's global competitiveness and market shares, User Support Networks (USNs) were defined and put in operation. One of the USNs, PrOMInent, was in view of the characteristics of the task and the focus of the OMI Programme, quite successful. One may say that a result was a larger number of SMEs successfully entering research projects with a higher quality than what would happen without this assistance. In addition, valuable experience was gained with respect to the requirements of SMEs, their needs and working environments and the support requirements in order to be able to successfully participate in public funded projects. This experience is paramount to take into account to further stimulate the SMEs' participation and their innovation. An important conclusion from PrOMInent, is that SMEs need handholding to be able to participate and carry out publicly funded research and development projects.
The target group is focused towards developers of technologies for and applications of embedded systems. It is an accompanying measure to the OMI heritage, to support and enhance the results of the ongoing activities and infrastructure. The objectives are threefold, on one hand to make use of the experience from PrOMInent about the needs and requirements of SMEs and ensure that there is an effective and smooth transition. On the other hand, support and co-ordination of dissemination activities of best practices in the demonstrator projects initiated during the year of PrOMInent. The third dimension of the proposal, is the inclusion of an area of Europe that was not covered by any User Support Network.
Continuing support to the activities started in PrOMInent is in this project represented by SINTEF and Joanneum, who both were partners in PrOMInent. During that project, these partners assisted nearly 20 OMI demonstrator proposals out of which 5 were accepted as EC funded projects. As renowned research institutes within their geographical areas, they are ideally suited to assist the ongoing projects and ensure a successful dissemination of the projects' results.
Italy and Portugal were not covered by any of the USNs. Consequently, there is no OMI demonstrator project from these countries although there is evidently a need among the local SMEs for a better practice in the construction and usage of embedded applications. In this geographical area, the project benefits from the contribution of Innova and PrintINOVA, both well renowned commercial technology transfer companies. They will identify SMEs' needs, and will in light of the PrOMInent experience recommend actions for the 5th Framework Program related to the SME support to reach Italian and Portuguese SMEs.
Through technology audits of Italian and Portuguese companies and assistance to ongoing OMI demonstrator projects, information will be gathered and compiled about SMEs' needs and what service profile a self sustained SME support activity must offer.
The project will also arrange a European best practice conference, more localised workshops, and maintain a professional web-site. All of this to disseminate the experiences from the OMI demonstrator projects and raise the awareness of the possibilities to come in the 5th Framework Programme for SMEs developing or using embedded applications.
Sintef Electronics and Cybernetics
Tel: 0047 2206 7300
Fax: 0047 2206 7350
Sintef Electronics and Cybernetics (Norway)
Joanneum Research (Austria)