The FEDER "IDEES Proofs of Concept" project of CETIC was selected among the 25 finalists (out of 214 applications!) of the REGIOSTARS Awards.
The specificity of this project is to work on digital technological innovation, while anticipating from the beginning the need to translate it into visible results (proofs of concept) that companies can appropriate.
The REGIOSTARS Awards are a yearly competition, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy. It aims at identifying good practices in regional development and highlighting innovative, EU-funded projects, which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions and project managers.
The ERDF innovation program is a good tool for advancing the expertise of applied research centers, such as CETIC. In the field of IT, the fact that the technologies and innovations are intangible make it more difficult for the beneficiaries when it comes to make the link with their own industrial applications, of SMEs in particular. During the preparation of the IDEES project, as part of the programming period 2014-2020, CETIC therefore set up a specific project structure aimed at ensuring that these expertises and know-how are adapted to the needs of businesses and transferable to them.
When setting up the project in 2013, CETIC wanted to develop technological aspects related to Big Data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things. Computer security was also already one of the topics covered.
To meet the objectives, a pilot project approach has been implemented, following a 4-point plan. (1) identify key sectors where digital technology would have a significant impact on the Walloon economy (2) consult many companies to fully understand their needs in terms of digital transformation (3) develop pilot projects to meet their needs (4 ) make the results tangible in a demonstration space to show them the advantages of these technologies.
The areas covered by the pilot projects are: health, in order to improve the security and processing of health data; energy efficiency in industry and construction with digital tools such as optimization software, sensors and mass data analysis; and finally, the mobility of people and goods as vehicles and transport infrastructure increasingly depend on IT.
The ERDF enables Wallonia, with the support of Europe, to invest in numerous initiatives. This program includes an axis linked to innovation where universities and research centers collaborate, but also significant measures to help innovative companies.
At CETIC level, since the start of the current ERDF programming, nearly 300 companies have directly benefited from the results, through technology transfer, or through R&D projects in collaboration with industry. Each year (apart from COVID of course), CETIC welcomes more than 1,000 visitors to its demonstration space.