Periods of economic turmoil highlight the need for change, so that economies become more competitive and enterprises increase their flexibility and are able to withstand global competition. Innovation plays a key role in safeguarding the competitive advantages of Europe. The I3E project promotes innovation in the area of South East Europe (SEE) focusing on the knowledge-intensive sectors of embedded systems and industrial informatics, two sectors of strategic importance for Europe. Almost half of the top European industries perform embedded systems research, while European manufacturing sector contributes around 22% of European GDP.

SEE is a dynamically growing area that is currently mostly characterised by developing inexpensive labour economies. With a GDP growth twice the EU average and a GDP per capita less than half the EU average, the area experiences the challenge to narrow the gap towards developed European economies. Investing in the new-market economy and promoting innovation is expected to facilitate the fulfilment of this challenge.

SEE has a significant R&D critical mass in the sectors of embedded systems and industrial informatics, characterised by good human potential as a result of efficient education. Yet, research teams often do not align their activities at a transnational level, appearing thus distributed and less effective. Furthermore, there is a missing link towards entrepreneurship and innovation both at national and transnational level.

The I3E project addresses the above challenges through two major outputs: a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in the aforementioned sectors and a Methodology Guide on Innovation (MGI).

The SRA is built taking into account similar European experiences and bringing them down to the individual needs of the SEE. Local consensus in the SEE countries among research teams both in industry and academia contributes the local research vision to the SRA. Promoting the SRA towards policy makers in the SEE area is expected to influence state research funding and help the different countries in the area align their research potential towards common goals, thus increasing the overall visibility of the SEE area on the European research map.

The MGI builds on top of Best Practices relevant to the transformation of research into innovation and will provide guidelines on how mature research results may lead to innovative products and services. Innovation may be viewed as the research pay-back to the society through increasing competitiveness, quality of life, employment and environmental friendliness.

The I3E project involves 12 partners from 8 countries and is expected to run between June 2009 and May 2012.

2009-2012 Industrial Systems Institute
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