Have you ever realized that the first thing needed to start a conversation is getting to know the others? In DIHNET, we are determined for this to happen in our community and that’s why we are coming back with a new installment of our “Digital Innovation Hub of the month” activity.
This May, we will talk about TETRAMAX, which works as an active DIH that aims to boost innovation for SMEs in search of customized low-energy computing technologies and solutions. We used to think that we knew them quite well but, indeed, we learned a few things with this interview.
Do you want to discover a few things about them too? Well, then, here you have the answers that Prof. Rainer Leupers (RL), that kindly agreed to be interviewed by us.
What is TETRAMAX? What are you working on at the moment?
R.L: As a Digital Innovation Hub, TETRAMAX aims to bring added value to European industry, helping to gain competitive advantage through faster digitization. It is coordinated by RWTH Aachen University, with 23 partners covering almost all EU countries. The project builds on experiences with the TETRACOM FP7 project during 2013-2016.
TETRAMAX was launched in September 2017 and runs until August 2021, to stimulate EU-wide ICT transfer with a novel and very focused form of short-term application experiments, so-called Technology Transfer Experiments (TTXs).
Can you provide some figures on the impact of the support you have provided?
R.L: Some impact highlights from TETRACOM´s TTX program include:
- 21 newly created ICT jobs,
- 29 new or improved products,
- 5 contributions to standards, and
- 11 new open-source software packages published.
In comparison to the earlier impact measurement campaign, the number of new jobs created more than tripled, and so did the number of contributions to standards. The number of new or improved products went up by 40%, and the number of open-source packages went up by two and a half times.
Furthermore, according to the industry clients responding to the 2018 survey, their TTXs contributed to total cost savings around €2 million and revenue increase of €4 million.
The TTXs also helped 10 European startups, with more still in formation. Last but not least, in total €24 million in venture capital investment so far were at least partially attributed to the TTXs.
How do you help companies involved in your TTX?
R.L: Many EU-funded R&D projects, despite generating excellent research outputs, suffer from a large gap to industrial take-up and real innovations. TETRACOM/TETRAMAX have been conceived to bridge the academia-industry technology transfer gap in the domain of custom computing systems, without being bound to any specific R&D project that originally generated some novel piece of technology to be transferred. Its most important instrument has been the creation of the TTX program.
TTXs have a clear focus on small to medium scale transfer activities that typically do not have the critical mass for generation of entirely new businesses via startup or spin-off companies. Each individual TTX works solely on bringing a pre-existing hardware or software IP into industrial use. Next to TTX funding via open calls, we also provide a comprehensive, searchable network for pan-European technology brokerage, as well as results dissemination and community events.
What EU funds did your DIH receive and how did you employ them? Were them important for setting-up or improving your DIH?
R.L: TETRACOM has been funded as an FP7 Coordination Action with approx. €2 million, while the total budget of the H2020 TETRAMAX project is €7 million. Most of this money is being spent for TTXs performed by third parties.
TETRACOM organized and co-funded a total of 50 TTXs, each of which transferred a specific hardware or software IP from academic research into industrial innovations. Funded TTXs were acquired via competitive open calls and were demanded to include at least 50% co-funding from the industrial technology receivers, in most cases European SMEs. The TTXs were targeted to a variety of application domains vital for European industry, e.g. automotive electronics, industrial automation, healthcare, and safety/security.
TETRAMAX plans to co-fund around 60 larger-scale TTX, out of which 20+ are already running or completed. Can you provide a practical example of an EU-funded experiment or of a case where you helped a company to develop a particular digital innovation/solution?
R.L: Via innovative industrial products and processes, many benefits were created within the TTXs. For instance:
- Silexica adopted a new technology for power-aware multicore software development in their tool suite offering. This new product feature contributes e.g. to lower energy consumption in wireless base stations.
- BlueBee received hardware acceleration IP for faster and cheaper genome-based diagnostics.
- MediTECH leveraged a TTX in a new mobile product development, helping in rehabilitation of stroke patients.
- AGC maximized their yield in manufacturing of glass components thanks to a new AI technology integrated into the cutting algorithm, finally leading to energy savings and less waste.
- ELES applied new research results in order to minimize the impact of icing on overhead power lines, thereby preventing large-scale damage and blackouts.
TETRAMAX is “A one stop shop for digitizing European SMEs”. Formally, it is a Horizon 2020 Innovation Action. It provides an implementation of the European Smart Anything Everywhere (SAE) initiative in the domain of customized and low-energy computing for Cyber Physical Systems and the Internet of Things.
Interview by Almudena S. Escrich, DIHNET