The challenge is to provide support to a large set of early stage high risk innovative SMEs in the ICT sector. Focus will be on SME proposing innovative ICT concept, product and service applying new sets of rules, values and models which ultimately disrupt existing markets.
The objective of the ODI is threefold:
- Nurture promising innovative and disruptive ideas;
- Support their prototyping, validation and demonstration in real world conditions;
- Help for wider deployment or market uptake.
Proposed projects should have a potential for disruptive innovation and fast market up-take in ICT.
In particular it will be interesting for entrepreneurs and young innovative companies that are looking for swift support to their innovative ideas.
The ODI objective will support the validation, fast prototyping and demonstration of disruptive innovation bearing a strong EU dimension.
ODI will be implemented through the SME instrument which consists of three separate phases and a coaching and mentoring service for beneficiaries. Participants can apply to Phase 1 with a view to applying to Phase 2 at a later date, or directly to Phase 2.
In phase 1, a feasibility study shall be developed verifying the technological/practical as well as economic viability of an innovation idea/concept with considerable novelty to the industry sector in which it is presented (new products, processes, design, services and technologies or new market applications of existing technologies). The activities could, for example, comprise risk assessment, market study, user involvement, Intellectual Property (IP) management, innovation strategy development, partner search, feasibility of concept and the like to establish a solid high-potential innovation project aligned to the enterprise strategy and with a European dimension. Bottlenecks in the ability to increase profitability of the enterprise through innovation must be detected and analysed during phase 1 and addressed during phase 2 to increase the return in investment in innovation activities. The proposal should contain an initial business plan based on the proposed idea/concept.
The proposal should give the specifications of the elaborated business plan, which is to be the outcome of the project and the criteria for success.
Funding will be provided in the form of a lump sum of EUR 50.000. Projects should last around 6 months.
In phase 2, innovation projects will be supported that address the specific challenge ODI and that demonstrate high potential in terms of company competitiveness and growth underpinned by a strategic business plan. Activities should focus on innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturisation, design, market replication and the like aiming to bring an innovation idea (product, process, service etc) to industrial readiness and maturity for market introduction, but may also include some research. For technological innovation a Technology Readiness Levels of 6 or above (or similar for non-technological innovations) are envisaged; please see part G of the General Annexes.
Proposals shall be based on an elaborated business plan either developed through phase 1 or another means. Particular attention must be paid to IP protection and ownership; applicants will have to present convincing measures to ensure the possibility of commercial exploitation ('freedom to operate').
Proposals shall contain a specification for the outcome of the project, including a first commercialisation plan, and criteria for success.
In addition, in phase 3, SMEs can benefit from indirect support measures and services as well as access to the financial facilities supported under Access to Risk Finance of this work programme.
Successful beneficiaries will be offered coaching and mentoring support during phase 1 and phase 2. This service will be accessible via the Enterprise Europe Network and delivered by a dedicated coach through consultation and signposting to the beneficiaries. The coaches will be recruited from a central database managed by the Commission and have all fulfilled stringent criteria with regards to business experience and competencies. Throughout the three phases of
the instrument, the Network will offer to complement the coaching support by providing access to its innovation and internationalisation service offering. This could include, for example, depending on the need of the SME, support in identifying growth potential, developing a growth plan and maximising it through internationalisation; strengthening the leadership and management skills of individuals in the senior management team and developing in-house coaching capacity; developing a marketing strategy or raising external finance.
- Enhancing profitability and growth performance of SMEs by combining and transferring new and existing knowledge into innovative, disruptive and competitive solutions seizing European and global business opportunities.
- Market uptake and distribution of ICT innovations.
- Increase of private investment in innovation, notably through private co-investments and/or follow-up investments in successfully supported SMEs.
- The expected impact should be clearly substantiated in qualitative and quantitative terms (e.g. on turnover, employment, market seize, IP management, sales, return on investment and profit).