SMEs developing robotic technologies may now apply for providing solutions to predefined real-life challenges. The respective challenge winners will receive direct financial support through a cascade funding mechanism by the European Commission of up to 200.000 euros each.
The EU-funded robotics project ESMERA (European SMEs Robotics Applications) has opened its first competitive call for experiment proposals. Within the European Commission´s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, ESMERA aims to boost robotics innovation by European Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). In the context of ESMERA small-scale research projects, so-called “experiments”, will be conducted.
In January 2018, the European Commission launched the ESMERA project to unlock the innovation potential of robotics SMEs. ESMERA promotes applied robotics technology developed for industrial challenges set by key European companies. Thereby the SMEs get a chance to implement, apply and prove new technologies that address real-life problems and thus already have a market.
The Challenge Areas
Key European companies have defined eight real-life industrial challenges, specific problems, that seek innovative robotics solutions. The challenges, that apply to the four areas of Energy, Manufacturing, Construction and Agri-food, have been selected because of their innovation potential. They allow multiple approaches and let SMEs be free to explore new directions in developing robotics technologies.
The Selection Process
The solution design will be carried out in two competitive phases.
- Phase I: 16 projects, so called experiments, will be selected to compete in proving their concept.
- Phase II: 8 winners are selected. They gain industrial leadership and business support to advance their path towards industrializing and commercializing their solutions.
SMEs can propose an experiment on their own or form a small consortium of partners, teaming up with R&D organizations or other companies supplementing their competences. For both phases combined, each team can receive up to 200.000 euros of funding.
The Partner Consortium
To boost the technology development by European SMEs, four robotics Competence Centers (CCs) open their doors to ESMERA. They offer high-tech robotic equipment, test environments and expertise to the SMEs, bridging the gap between research and industry:
- Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems and Automation (LMS) at the University of Patras (Project Coordinator)
- Commissarat à l´Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA)
- Technische Universität München (TUM)
- Fundación TEKNIKER (IK4-TEKNIKER)
Three facilitators in robotics who have successfully undergone the process themselves provide mentoring and support in developing business cases and managing the complete chain from idea to market:
- Blue Ocean Robotics
- U. Robots
SMEs can apply within the open call (August, 1st to October 31st) using the project´s submission page http://opencalls.esmera-project.eu. The testing and evaluation phase will last nine months. In addition, within the ESMERA project, a second open call with new challenges from Energy, Manufacturing, Construction and Agri-Food will open in the fall of 2019.
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