Europe is undoubtedly the cradle of some of the most active Small & Medium Businesses (SMEs) in the world. Knowing well that SMEs are the backbone of the EU Economy, Internet of Things (IoT) heavily relies on their ability to invent, test and deploy IoT technologies. This is why SMEs are an essential pillar for the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) in order to create a dynamic European Internet of Things ecosystem.

This is a guest blog post written by Raph Crouan, Managing Director Startupbootcamp

One of the key segments in which Europe is particularly excelling is the Internet of Things (IoT). We are very resourceful in key Engineering talents, we have a history of industrial culture and we are expanding worldwide with companies such as Sigfox or Undagrid.

Over the past 3 years, I have been lucky enough to witness the birth of many of such future European Champions in my capacity of Investor, Adviser & Supporter of the Hardware Startup Scene – in particular as Founder & Managing Director of the Startupbootcamp IoT programme.

When our group met back in February 2015 in Brussels to set out the key values and objectives for our Alliance, we clearly identified that SMEs were going to play an integral part in our initiative.

But this wasn’t an easy challenge as we needed to create a recognizable body to work on key verticals and give recommendations on the future of the IoT for innovation and deployment, which would primarily be coming from our founding members, mainly corporations (the likes of Cisco, Vodafone, ST Micro, Samsung and others).

And we did achieve it! AIOTI is today the biggest IoT stakeholder forum in Europe that identifies roadblocks for IoT deployment, gaps in standardization and promotes cross-domain synergies by bringing together the telecom, internet sector, automotive, home, agriculture, health and smart city stakeholders.

Therefore, as Chair for SMEs and member of the AIOTI board, one of my first missions was to define the type of SME supporters that we would need in order to establish the foundation layer. We expected the membership to quickly pick-up (particularly for big organizations/ Corporations) but we never anticipated such success amongst SMEs: In less than a week, I had already registered more than 100 interested parties.

The next step was to ensure that the smallest members will have a voice at board level, as well as map out the SME engagement, in particular with a better understanding of the various segments represented. As it happens, we have now a very wide set of SMEs across the board, participating in our 11 Working groups with more than 50% of our current members categorized as SME.

Now that our AIOTI Working groups have released their recommendations for the Large Scale Pilots (LSP), we will start engaging more in depth with our members in order to validate our assumptions and implement our recommendations as phase 2 of our initiative. So, you can trust that we will leverage this large base of SMEs to be prime testers for those recommendations!

The next few months are going to be critical: our AIOTI is now at a crossroad between its current form as recommendation body and that of a more official organization. But, we are more than ever confident about the fact that we have a great group of committed actors to reach our ambitious goals.

One thing remains certain: SMEs will be at the centre of this organization, whatever form it will take.

This is a very exciting time for us at the AIOTI: we can't wait to share it with you and build a path towards a true IoT European leadership!

Feel free to follow me on twitter: @raphntwit