SMEs employ approximately 55% of the EU workforce in transport, and their important role in the value chain is expected to increase and change, especially in the emerging Low Carbon Transport (particularly road and air transport) sector, where reduced fuel consumption, reduced emissions and alternative power sources require innovation in a wide range of technology. INTRASME focuses on the changing role, which SMEs have on innovation in the transport sector.
The rigid value chain of the transport sector is stifling the introduction of innovation by SMEs into new vehicles and transport-related products. SMEs (usually Tier 2 suppliers) find it difficult to interact with vehicle manufacturers, as they generally have short-term supply contracts to Tier 1 companies, who are strongly linked to specific large volume OEMs. Tier 2 SMEs have no collective voice or influence at European level and the EU is not taking advantage of or supporting directly the thriving innovative companies in this sector.
INTRASME will address the existing market failure and focus on the opportunities that new markets offer to innovative and dynamic businesses.
INTRASME will address, in particular, the European manufacturing capability offered by SMEs of different EU Regions targeting the main goal of how to bring more efficiently and quicker innovative products and services to the market. The emerging Low Carbon Transport market will be used to examine barriers to innovation and to develop mechanisms to support the innovation potential of SMEs.
INTRASME will also bring together key European partners, in the areas of transport innovation. These partners are selected to provide unrivalled access to national activities and associations on both a national and European level, to support INTRASME knowledge sharing, dissemination and impact.
Enhancing the innovation capacity of transport SMEs
An EU initiative has helped European businesses in the transport sector to embrace innovation, thus enabling the emergence of more efficient and eco-friendly transport solutions.
Within the transport sector, translating cutting-edge research and development (R&D) into practical applications is crucial for creating better societies and cleaner environments. The EU-funded http://www.intrasme.eu/ (INTRASME) (Innovative transport SME support action) project looked at how to bring innovative products and services to the market more efficiently.
Key areas the project focused on were electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, new technologies in light aircraft, and smart mobility or end-to-end journey management for all transport modes.
To achieve its aims, project partners developed a series of activities and tools enabling European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in the low-carbon transportation and smart mobility industries to translate research results into products and services. They identified and examined barriers SMEs face in accessing EU R&D programmes, and developed guidelines for exploitation plans to help disseminate and exploit EU innovative products and results in the global market. The team also analysed how new SMEs obtain and make the most of new technologies, developed case studies and identified opportunities for SMEs to quickly commercialise innovations.
Networks were set up to foster and strengthen entrepreneurship and innovation in EU regions where barriers have been identified. To support the networks, a web-based platform based on user needs and a best practice toolbox were created.
Several events and a series of roadshows, workshops and demo sessions were organised to disseminate and exploit the products and services of EU R&D initiatives.
INTRASME introduced SMEs to quicker and more efficient paths in bringing their innovative products and services to the transport market. This should help SMEs bring Europe a step closer to greener, cleaner and more efficient transport solutions.