Manufacturing SMEs throughout Europe need to reinforce their innovation capacity through integration and usage of key enabling technologies to improve significantly productivity, waste and pollution management and reduce their environmental footprint.
The geographical disparity of clean production technology service providers and infrastructures throughout Europe creates disadvantages in Key Enabling Technologies (KET) services access for manufacturing SMEs. In many EU Member States and regions, SMEs have no opportunity to access KETs at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4-8 in their own region.
Public authorities in countries where KET service access is more difficult play a crucial role. They may offer incentives, financial mechanisms, financial instruments and enabling frameworks for their regional SME to use KET services across borders, in accordance with their Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialization (RIS3).
Existing incentives, funding programs, financial instruments and mechanisms are general – most sectors’ inclusive or focused on SMEs in general. They’re not specifically tailored for financing neither growth of the green sector nor incentivizing SMEs to use KET services across borders for KET to SME transfer or implementing clean production processes.
The KET4CleanProduction micro grant is unique existing incentive and financial mechanism on a EU level that is tailored to the needs of SMEs to implement cleaner production processes using KET technology services across borders.
Key policy recommendation to the public authorities in the EU-27 countries were developed during the project to design and implement KET financial instrument nationally and/ or regionally. Consistent with the regional Smart Specialization Strategy (S3 strategy), policymakers are encouraged to make use of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and other funds to engage their regional technology centers and infrastructures to collaborate with other KETs technology Infrastructures across borders so bridge the service and technology gap in their region.
National/ regional implementation of the KET financial instrument shall be based on Pan-European ket4sme.eu platform that creates a one-stop technology consultancy targeted at SMEs’ where SMEs and other relevant actors can access services offers derived from the capabilities of partner KET Technological Centers (TC).
National/ regional KET financial instruments shall use the ket4sme.eu platform and its automatic matching process for connecting national/ regional SMEs with Key Enabling Technology Centers.
The benefits of introducing KET financial instrument are synergic both for public authorities and SMEs: improving the competitiveness of the SMEs via internationalization and transnational KET – TC/ SME collaboration, in accordance with the countries’ national or regional RIS3.
KET financial instrument will foster the use of advanced manufacturing technologies and related Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to upgrade their production processes and entire value chain towards resource and energy efficiency.