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Opportunity for SMEs: How to gain access to "smart products"

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How can SMEs benefit from modern micro-technologies? How can these systems be manufactured economically in quantities of only some hundreds or thousands? And how can enterprises in one European country gain access to the required know-how only provided in another European country?

European research project Smarter-SI intends to answer these questions by building up a joint manufacturing infrastructure driven by the cooperation between several European Research and Technology Organizations (RTOs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). 

SMEs are explicitly asked to participate in this project and bring in their ideas of “smart products” as the European Union provides financial resources for the implementation. A catalogue of building blocks of such smart products as offered by the involved RTOs is available at the SMARTER-SI webiste.

The project is coordinated by Hahn-Schickard Institut für Mikro- und Informationstechnik (HSG-IMIT) in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. Project partners are CiS Forschungsinstitut (Erfurt, Germany), IK4-IKERLAN (Spain), Tyndall National Laboratories (Ireland), Swerea IVF (Sweden) or CSEM (Switzerland).

Within the framework of SMARTER-SI the project partners will put into practice several innovative smart products proposed by SMEs. Already selected product ideas are:

  • Portable device for testing groceries e.g. on micro-toxins that can also be operated without previous knowledge. It will be performed by two Spanish SMEs together with RTOs from Spain and Germany
  • Dew point sensors with short response time and high precision to be applied in  lyophilization and process control (cooperation of three German SMEs together with German and Swedish RTOs)
  • Sensor system with little power consumption, short reaction time as well as little cross sensitivity for the measurement of carbon dioxide (cooperation of two German SMEs together with RTOs from Switzerland and Germany) 
  • Device for testing the quality of drinking water in households as well as services close to home (cooperation of an Irish SME together with RTOs from Ireland, Spain and Germany)

Until the end of 2015, a jury of industry representatives will choose further product ideas from the submitted propositions. Selection criteria will be the novelty of the idea, challenging technology mix, feasibility at short notice as well as the market potential of the targeted product. Previous experience in microsystems technology or smart products is not in the primary focus, as the Smarter-SI Consortium also addresses first-users. The RTOs involved in SMARTER-SI offer extensive support in terms of design as well as technology.

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