The EU initiative ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS) connects SMEs, startups and mid-caps with European Digital Innovation Hubs, who help companies to test and adopt the latest digital technologies.

I4MS is one of the key initiatives launched by the European Commission within the action line on Digital Innovation Hubs. Nearly EUR 110 million have been invested on I4MS since its launch in 2013, with a supplementary investment of EUR 35 million in 2017.

The aim is to ensure European leadership in manufacturing through the adoption of ICT technologies, with a special focus on SMEs and the following technology areas:

  • Cyber Physical Systems and Internet of Things
  • HPC cloud-based simulation services and data analytics
  • Laser based applications and additive manufacturing
  • Robotics

Experimentation with new technologies

I4MS offers technological and financial support to SMEs and mid-caps to experiment with different ICT enabling technologies, Industry 4.0 processes and innovative business models. The funding enables cross-border experiments of short duration where SMEs and mid-caps collaborate with Digital Innovation Hubs to test ICT technologies.

Digital Innovation Hubs provide their knowledge and support, helping SMEs to resolve the competence gap, become early adopters of new technologies and accomplish their digital transformation.

Innovative technology suppliers also participate in these experiments, where they can mature their existing technologies and ultimately open new markets and services. The Digital Innovation Hubs also benefit from the initiative, as they extend their largely research-oriented activities with industrial projects, gaining a new sustainable business model.

More than 350 experiments of this kind are being launched since the beginning of the initiative, helping hundreds of companies across Europe to foster their competitiveness.

Technology adoption lifecycle
I4MS- source wikipedia

Extending European collaboration

I4MS is one of the key initiatives contributing to the pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs. By enabling cross-border experiments, I4MS also helps to develop a fully functional innovation ecosystems where hubs provide the services needed by companies across Europe, going beyond technical advice and including also business consulting and training.

The new phase of I4MS, launched in 2017, also offers new actions to foster collaboration and address new challenges:

  • I4MS online community to bring together all the actors involved in digital transformation
  • Disruptors Awards:to select the best experiments illustrating the benefits of implementing ICT technologies
  • Skills Observatory: to provide an overview of all digital skills and training materials focused on robotics, HPCIoT, additive manufacturing and Cyber Physical Systems, that are key to the industry’s success.

Mentoring programme

The Digitising European Industry initiative aims to have a Digital Innovation Hub in every region by 2020, but many regions are not yet part of this network. In order to address this challenge, I4MS has coached 29 new Digital Innovation Hubs in many of these regions through a EUR 1.45 million mentoring programme.

The participating hubs received the support from the existing network of Digital Innovation Hubs on how to develop a business plan, identify the needs of industry in their regions and operate their services.

The programme was very successful and these hubs have now become an active part of the European network. The programme also inspired a new project, "Smart Factories in new EU Member States", which is now training 34 Digital Innovation Hubs in Central and Eastern Europe.

Open Calls

I4MS has currently four running projects that will launch 9 open calls for experiments across 2018 and 2019. If you are an SME or mid-cap interested in funding for your digital transformation, you can find here all available open calls.

Background documents