European RTD convergence is one of the most of the FP. Participation of SME especially from Eastern European as well as Candidate countries is far from being satisfactory. In response to this, Don Q Air intended to increase awareness of Polish, Romanian, and Turkish aeronautic SMEs about EU activities within the sector and raise their participation in the next FP.
The target group: SMEs or clusters of companies with sufficient RTD capacity and experience in international environment ready to collaborate in European projects. Scope: Poland as a new EU member, and Romania and Turkey as candidate countries. The three of them showed RTD potentials and capabilities in the aeronautical sector worthy to be fostered. The donor entity is CARSA, which has previously carried out similar projects. The methodology: Don Q method elaborated by CARSA and successfully implemented in several European regions.
The project DON Q AIR project aimed at encouraging R&D activities in the aeronautic-related SMEs in Poland, Romania and Turkey, by means of a well-targeted methodology, the DON Q AIR method, developed to enable R&D in adverse environments. By means of DON Q AIR methodology, aeronautic-related SMEs in targeted countries got aware of the advantages of taking part in RTD actions, especially at a European level, through dissemination events and training on how to participate, promote and / or propose RTD projects in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). DON Q AIR sought also to provide SMEs with both information and resources to participate in R&D activities in a European context. DON Q AIR has significantly increased the awareness of Polish, Romanian, and Turkish SMEs about EU activities in the aeronautics sector and will strive to encourage their participation in RTD and co-operative research actions even after the project has finished.
DON Q AIR had the following objectives:
- Contact at least 250 aeronautic-related SMEs.
- Analyse the technological situation of at least 170 SMEs related to the aeronautical sector (including suppliers) - 60 in Poland, 40 in Romania, and 70 in Turkey).
- Inform about RTD actions and European RTD programmes to 170 SMEs through the celebration of 3 training seminars in each targeted country (9 seminars throughout the project).
- Support and tutor directly 90 SMEs, through the creation of a direct support information area. Mail, phone and technical visits were the common means to carry out these tutoring activities. Integration of these 90 in a first excellence club, for further collaboration.
- Perform 50 detailed technological diagnoses, with assessment on possible improvements. The top 50 SMEs were included in the Permanent Exchange Ideas Network, to facilitate future contacts and project cooperation.
- Develop, from 30 project ideas, at least 15-20 project dossiers involving various SMEs from targeted countries, training SMEs in developing good ideas, finding partners, planning resources, and fitting the proposal to the proper instruments and calls.
- 10-12 SMEs involved in European RTD projects / proposals.
- 5 Full proposals, ready to be submitted, if the proper call appears.
The project was structured into five work packages (WP), as follows:
WP 1: From DON Q method to DON Q AIR methodology: Polish, Romanian and Turkish cases.
The consortium defined guidelines for the analysis report and started working on gathering the information. The final outcome of this analysis was to show the complete situation of aeronautical sector in Poland, Romania and Turkey, taking into consideration its constant changes, creation of new companies, R&D institutes, industrial clusters and new tools and financial support mechanisms for the development of aviation sector in mentioned countries. All the information gathered by partners was compiled by the coordinator, supported by CARSA. Appropriate analysis and conclusions were drawn, putting special emphasis on the common potentials and barriers for developing technological innovation of contacted SMEs. CARSA, with the support of all the consortium partners has refined the DON Q AIR methodology tools and procedures to the particular requirements for Poland, Romania and Turkey in order to apply it for the technical audits procedure that was conducted at the later stage of the project.
WP 2: Selection and clustering of SMEs.
The aim of the creation of a direct support information area (DISA) was to support and tutor directly SMEs. Mail, phone and technical visits were the common means to carry out these tutoring activities. DISA originated the excellence club of SMEs where all aeronautics RTD-advanced SMEs were assisted with additional support, such as introduction in specific networks, support in customisation of their business plans based on opportunities given with the appearance of technologies, etc. This club grew in numbers in accordance to the technological improvement of other interested SMEs. With the support of DISA, each project partner (CARSA excluded) organised a number of training seminars in each country. Each partner organised three or more seminars, in which a special attention was paid toward inviting as many SMEs as possible for active participation.
During the later stage of the project partners evaluated all SMEs, and chose 101 potential project end-users out of the 140 SMEs pre-selected in the first phase of the project, that fulfilled the minimal requirements. There were two main criteria upon which companies were selected to the potential end-users group: area of interest and internationalisation potential.
WP 3: Tutoring of SMEs
Main goal of the techno
Don Q Air project has had a big impact on Polish, Romanian and Turkish aeronautical SMEs.
First of all, it had big influence on every single company that was a part of the Top Excellence Group. Each of them, after receiving the Technological Audit, were identified with the potential that could be used by them in terms of both the future company development as well as directions of the international R&D cooperation that could be follow by each company. The Technological Audits allowed to identify very large number of project ideas, that were at the later stage converted into project proposals submitted with the assistance of Don Q Air partners.
Despite of the fact, that none of the 9 proposals that were supported by Don Q Air has succeeded in passing the evaluations, this work had great benefit for the SMEs that took part in preparation of the projects.Also, Audits allowed companies to be more independent in their own initiatives on engaging in European R&D financing activities, which has resulted in some of them preparing and submitting proposals to JTI Clean Skycalls as well as taking part in national funded programmes.
The lessons learnt from the preparation of proposals will allow them to be better prepared for the forthcoming calls, not only in FP7 Aeronautics scheme, but also ie. JTI CS and other European and national schemes aiming at funding R&D activities.