Projects are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:
- Making European manufacturing companies, especially SMEs and small mid-caps, more sustainable and resilient through the best use of digital technologies and upskilling of personnel;
- Making jobs of humans working in the manufacturing sector safer and more attractive for a diverse population of workers;
- Increasing innovation capacity, agility and productivity of the manufacturing sector, in particular for SMEs and mid-caps;
- Increasing the competitiveness of SMEs and mid-caps by reducing the entry barriers to the use of advanced digital technologies, and transferring innovative solutions into the wider manufacturing community.
ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS) aims to support manufacturing SMEs and mid-caps in adopting the latest innovative digital technologies for their business operations. I4MS2 builds on I4MS and addresses more significantly a sustainable and resilient production.
The pandemic and economic crises demonstrated the key role of digital technologies in responding quickly to external changes. Digitalisation improves resilience, agility and competitiveness, and enables cost-efficient production in Europe. It will also support a radical reduction of the environmental footprint of the sector. In this context, experimentation with innovative and secure digital technologies in their production processes, products and business models guided notably by competence centres specialised in the technologies mentioned below will enhance manufacturing companies to successfully manage the twin digital and green transformation of the coming years.
I4MS2 calls for Innovation Action projects that will support European SMEs and mid-caps to innovate and make more sustainable their products, production processes and business models through experimentation and testing. At least 50% of the budget should be allocated to SMEs and mid-caps to participate in the experiments. The proposals may include financial support to third parties to finance SMEs and mid-caps. Proposals should describe their complementarity to existing initiatives, namely the network of European Digital Innovation Hubs, which is supported through the Digital Europe Programme. They should also indicate how they will collaborate with European Digital Innovation Hubs.
Priority should be given to technologies that can:
- Improve the sustainability of processes and products; significantly reduce or reuse waste and lower the energy and carbon footprint;
- Make industrial processes more agile, secure and resilient to future changes;
- Make manufacturing jobs more attractive for humans, whichever the age, gender or social and cultural background, through better human-machine interfaces and more intuitive interaction with digital tools;
The following technology areas should be addressed in proposals:
- Artificial Intelligence applied to manufacturing, with a specific focus of AI applications at the edge;
- Cybersecure Industrial Internet of Things enabling trustworthy sharing of industrial data and value creation, to achieve further flexibility and agility of supply chains;
- Advanced interfaces and collaboration within smart working environments such as collaborative robots.
Proposals submitted under this topic should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the introduction to this Destination.
Research must build on existing standards or contribute to standardisation. Interoperability for data sharing should be addressed. Additionally, a strategy for skills development should be presented, associating social partners when relevant.
All projects should build on or seek collaboration with existing projects and develop synergies with other relevant European, national or regional initiatives, funding programmes and platforms.
This topic implements the co-programmed European Partnership Made in Europe.
Specific Topic Conditions:
Activities are expected to start at TRL 5 and achieve TRL 7 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.
Artificial IntelligenceSocial sciences and humanitiesDigital AgendaCo-programmed European Partnerships