Manufacturing in Europe: How does I4MS contribute to the digital transformation of SMEs and mid-caps?
I4MS is the EU initiative to digitalise the manufacturing industry
I4MS, ICT for Manufacturing SMEs, is a European initiative funded by H2020 supporting manufacturing SMEs and mid-caps in the widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in their business operations. FundingBox is now taking the lead of this initiative and will continue the work based on the legacy of past similar actions to facilitate the shift from traditional to digital manufacturing and take the leap to the market.
It is well-know that information technologies such as cloud computing, robotics, cyber physical systems, IoT and additive manufacturing solutions can significantly contribute to boost the competitiveness of SMEs and ease the access to global markets and new digital business models. However, SMEs still struggle in its adaptation to the rapidly changing digital era.
The promises of new revenue, innovative products and services are sometimes not attractive enough to take the risk of investing in digital transformation, other challenges are linked to to low staff numbers or lack of training, difficulties identifying the technology that better suits their needs, among others.
The advantages of becoming a 4.0 SME are huge, but the challenges of this transformation cannot be dismissed. In this context the European Commission launched, in 2013, I4MS with a total budget until 2020 of €143 million. Under I4MS, SMEs can apply for technological and financial support to conduct small experiments allowing them to test digital innovations in their business.
WHAT DOES I4MS OFFER?
I4MS platform gathers information on services and opportunities available for SMEs and mid-caps to reap the rewards of digital transformation. We are speaking about information on how digital technologies, such as cloud-based simulation, additive manufacturing, robotics, CPS and IoT can improve business processes.
Besides, I4MS also gives access to advice and technology services offered by DIHs and the Innovation Actions to facilitate the digital transformation of SMEs. But funding opportunities for digital transformation of the manufacturing industry are also available, so SMEs and mid-caps can experiment with new technologies.
Information on digital skills key to the industry’s success and access to training materials will also be offered through the Skills Observatory, as well as an acceleration program with matchmaking opportunities. Moreover, the Disruptor Awards will reward and recognise the best digital transformation experiments of SMEs and mid-caps.
Last, but not least, I4MS has created an online community for the EU manufacturing industry to foster working, learning and connecting. To find new synergies and invigorate the ecosystem. This means that I4MS will bring the smart manufacturing ecosystem together by offering information on leading-edge technologies and funding opportunities, but also inspiring and offering support to facilitate the digital transformation.