DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES for RESEARCH 2018 | Serving the user base

SME Dynamics Workshop: SMEs as consumers of e-Infrastructures - Towards an integrated approach

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 09:00


The European economy is heavily based on the existence of SMEs, with SMEs making up 99% of Europe’s companies. SMEs are considered one of the key drivers for economic growth, innovation, and employment but these companies have common challenges for survival, growth and innovation. Acquiring new technology or technological capabilities as well as providing services that can be tested and used by big players are in general more difficult for SMEs than for big enterprises. 

The European Commission has recently increased its focus in Horizon 2020 on the engagement of SMEs with E-Infrastructures, aiming to boost the innovation potential of European SMEs through the provision of high-quality e-infrastructure services. Such engagement with industry offers strong opportunities for product/service development, knowledge sharing, and economic impact amongst other things. However, SME needs are diverse, there are many of them, coupled with policy limitations between public and commercial activities. As result, engagement can be a challenge. 

For many years, e-Infrastructures have been working with industry through defined strategies and/or dedicated programmes. However, given the scale of SMEs, many are still unaware of the existence of many of the e-infrastructure resources and services available to them. It is critical therefore that E-infrastructures work closely with innovation clusters as the gateway to facilitate such engagement with SMEs and other actors in the innovation ecosystem.

In this session, we will bring together a number of SME representatives and innovation and support organisations, focused on building communities and engaging and supporting SMEs, to share their strategies, experiences, and above all, best practices. 

By sharing strategies and experiences between these organisations and working closely with the E-Infrastructures to understand their strategies and best practice, the aim is to increase engagement effectiveness, identify collaboration opportunities, minimize duplication of effort through joint activities and ultimately stimulate greater take up of E-Infrastructure services and creation of new products, services and business models. 

This is the second of two sessions, complemented by a preceding session on “SME engagement across e-infrastructures” which investigates the strategies for evolving E-Infrastructures business models to support more engagement of SMEs, development of new services and adaption of existing services to support SMEs, and integration of technologies and services from SMEs into their business models. So that those SMEs can not only benefit from the Resources/Services of e-infrastructures, but also join the existing supply chain and communities.

Session Schedule (presentation titles are provisional)

Introduction to the E-Infra4SMEs H2020 project, its Aims and Objectives, Silvia De La Maza, Innovalia Association
Cluster and community development in the UK Digital economy by Digital Catapult, Daniel Dearing, Digital Catapult
SME engagement in France by Cap Digital, Josephine Rohner, Cap Digital
Examples of SME Engagement in UK HPC sector, HPC Midlands representative (to be confirmed)
Panel discussion

The main output of this session will be a set of recommendations on community development, potential business models, SME engagement best practices, engagement of other actors in the innovation ecosystem (e.g. research software engineers as intermediaries), collaboration areas and opportunities, as well as potential joint strategies.

Target Audience:

The target audience is a mixture of research engagement representatives of (Inter)National e-Infrastructure Providers, innovation actors (both regional and pan-European), private and public organisations looking for collaboration opportunities, and potential end users for providing direct feedback in what information they need:
● Innovation clusters (European and Regional) and other SME representatives 
● Any e-infrastructure (and related projects) currently working with or interested in serving/supporting SMEs
● Research and technology organisations and individuals (esp those that could act as intermediaries)
● Start-ups, SMEs

Benefits for Audience:

The primary aim of this workshop is to raise awareness with SMEs and to explore the issues that they will face in engaging with E-Infrastructures. In order to do this, we want to:
● Raise awareness of the possible business models and services around e-Infrastructures
● Understand the strategy and engagement activities of different Innovation clusters and communities for engaging/working with SMEs
● Help E-Infrastructures understand the needs of SMEs and the organisations that represent them 
● Identify possibilities for creating synergies.
● Share best practices
The session concludes with ample time for discussion in order to define a set of recommendations and actions as key takeaways for session participants.

Topic 1: Challenges facing users and service providers

Presenters, Organisation
Daniel Dearing Digital Catapult
Annabel Grant GÉANT
Roberta Piscitelli
Sy Holsinger
Nuno Varandas IPM