EU initiative I4MS (ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs) is now running for one year. At the event "Fostering Digital Industrial Innovation in Europe" organised on 17 – 18 June in Berlin back to back with the launch of “Autonomik für Industrie 4.0" by the German Ministry for Economics and Energy, first achievements were highlighted and next steps discussed by a high calibre panel of industrialists and decision makers from public authorities.

Exactly one year has passed since the European Commission announced the contribution of € 77 million from its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to an innovation initiative for the manufacturing sector. Aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of European high-tech small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the "I4MS" initiative (ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs) was launched on 1 July 2013 (see the Press Release)

After completing the initial year, I4MS will host its first public international event on 18th June in Berlin, in cooperation with the launch of the German manufacturing programme, “Autonomik für Industrie 4.0". The event will highlight what has been achieved by I4MS and further funding opportunities for SMEs and middle size corporates (mid-caps) under the Initiative. The event will signify the importance of SMEs in Europe’s manufacturing industry and their role in the reindustrialisation process for Europe. At a glance: SMEs are providers of around 45% of manufacturing added value and roughly 59% of employment in the manufacturing sector.

Innovation - a "main course" on the discussion table

One year ago the Commission clearly showed its commitment towards boosting the competitiveness of SMEs in the manufacturing sector as part of the reindustrialization policy for Europe (see my blog post). The message that Europe is giving is clear: Europe's competitiveness in that sector depends on its capacity to deliver highly innovative products that are produced economically and at excellent quality. Now, in Berlin, different high-level speakers from large industries and SMEs, competence centres, and decision makers from public authorities from the EU and its Member States will discuss achievements and new opportunities. The event will actively involve European SMEs and "Mittelstand", featuring talks on the different application experiments that they are involved in, the latest technologies that they are using and how ICT is a key innovation driver for manufacturing SMEs.

The afternoon preceding the I4MS Event will be dedicated to a joint panel between I4MS and a German Government Initiative :“Autonomik für Industrie 4.0" ( (part of the German High-Tech 2020 strategy). With speakers from the German Ministry of Economics and Energy, the European Commission and high calibre representatives from the manufacturing and robotics industries as well as academia, this discussion will focus on autonomy in complex production systems and European opportunities and challenges. Besides technological and economic issues, legal and security issues will also be raised.

The core I4MS day will serve Innovation as a "main course" on the discussion tables: digital industrial innovation in Europe; innovation actions in Horizon 2020; ICT innovation for manufacturing SMEs; the Factories of the Future Private Public Partnership (PPP); innovative use of smart laser, robotics, and simulation technologies in advanced manufacturing; among others. New opportunities under I4MS and its next phase will be highlighted.

Check details here. Knowing the importance of the Initiative, we will certainly come back with feedback and a follow up message after the event.