Fostering Resilience and Innovation in Europe through Networking Development of clusters in the Cultural and Creative Industry ecosystem
The FRIEND CCI project offers financial support to SMEs in the form of grants, directed to the development and implementation of cross-sectoral projects aimed to bring innovation both at the level of products and at the level of processes/ technologies, with a specific eye on the needs linked to the twin transition.
The project FRIEND CCI aims at contributing to an improved resilience of the European Industrial Ecosystem of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) and to its green and digital transformation, by supporting the SMEs by offering them financial support in the form of grants, directed to the development and implementation of cross-sectoral projects aimed to bring innovation both at the level of products and at the level of processes/ technologies, with a specific eye on the needs linked to the twin transition. To this end, the support will entail mandatory training and upskilling/ reskilling activities, according to the specific needs of SMEs, and including skills needed for the green and digital transition. Also, as part of the support, SMEs will be asked to include activities to go international, based on their level of readiness.
FRIEND CCI will publish two calls for proposals in total. This call constitutes the 1st call for proposals. The 2nd call for proposals is planned to be published in November 2023. The 2 calls for proposals will be pursuing the same objectives.
The 1st call aims at supporting SMEs in:
Developing and implementing cross-sectoral projects aimed to bring innovation at the level of products and/or at the level of processes/ technologies, with a specific focus on the needs linked to the twin transition;
Fostering cross-fertilization and innovation between SMEs of different ecosystems;
Go international, to boost access to global supply and value chains.
The support will entail mandatory training and upskilling/ reskilling activities, according to the specific needs of SMEs, and including skills needed for the green and digital transition. Also, as part of the support, SMEs will be asked to include activities to go international, based on their level of readiness to internationalise.
The call for proposals gives the possibility to choose at least one between two mandatory objectives. Applicant consortiums must aim at submitting joint projects that target at least one, or both mandatory objectives:
Introduce or enhance product innovations;
Adopt processes and technologies to reinforce transformation into a greener and more digital economy.
A. Reskilling and upskilling of the workforce and talent management
Develop training programmes for SMEs members on digitalization and digital skills,
Conduct training for SME managers on the digital transition, and/or green transition and/or support on internationalization, with the support of an external training provider;
Organizing training for SME management to facilitate the acquisition of skills needed to streamline and accelerate an innovation process within the company.
B. Go international to boost access to global supply and value chains Potential actions:
Sign business agreements and develop joint collaborative agreements with relevant partners from third countries (i.e. from non-SMP COSME pillar countries2);
Conduct intelligence gathering (e.g. market analysis of global demand; study about competing players, relative positioning, market trends and opportunities, and defining the added value of the partnership’s combined competencies in relation to this);
Identify the right partners in third countries, notably through tailored fact-finding missions and joining relevant networks;
Collaborate with other local, regional, national and European support providers on matchmaking and other efforts.Boosting internationalization of SMEs by receiving services from professional providers in the form of education and trainings opportunity aimed at increasing the internationalization competitivity;
Prepare tailored identity shaping and joint promotional activities such as the development of a joint communication/marketing and branding strategy to promote business cooperation as well as attract talents and investments worldwide;
Applicant consortium will have as mandatory requirement to include in their project budget the financial provisions for at least one service from an external service provider. The service(s) should focus on one of the following topics: Digital transition, Green Transition, Internationalization. FRIEND CCI has launched in March 2023 a call for manifestation of interests for services providers with the aim of furnishing SMEs a list of recommended providers, as highly respecting standards companies that have manifested their interests in supporting SMEs in three required topics.
The following services can be provided to the SMEs from the creative and cultural industries under the FRIEND CCI project (the list is not exhaustive):
Services for the digital transition: Any form of online and in-person service or training that covers digital technologies, including:
Internet of Things
Monitoring systems and traceability
Specialised (design) software
Services for the green transition: Any form of online and in-person service or training that covers methods and approaches to make products and services greener and more sustainable, including:
Carbon footprint and emission of greenhouse gasses
Circular Social Responsibility (CSR)
Services to support internationalization: Any form of online and in-person service related to internationalization:
Analysis of targets and competitors
Due Diligence Process
Risk and opportunities analysis
Study of legal and economic environment, financial system
Other services can be provided if they serve the objective of the up- and re-skilling of the workforce, digitalisation of companies, improving sustainability, increasing resilience, and supporting internationalization.
The aim is to reduce the dependency of companies in the ecosystem on critical inputs and critical technologies through a development of novel ideas, substitutes, innovative products or services. Innovation is central to cope with disruptions in supply or to accelerate the uptake of green and digital technologies. Applicants should submit proposals that center in innovation in their value chains. They should undertake innovation activities i.e. all developmental, financial and commercial activities undertaken by a firm that are intended to result in an innovation for the firm.
Throughout the first and second call for proposal, at least 21 cooperation projects will be funded, with the requirement that at least two SMEs from two different industrial ecosystems are involved in each project (of which one must represent the CCI ecosystem), with the aim of fostering cross-fertilization and innovation between SMEs of different sectors. Through 2 open calls for SMEs, FRIEND CCI project expects to fund a minimum of 21 to a maximum of 53 projects, supporting at least 42 enterprises from 10 European countries.
Proposals must be submitted by a consortium of SMEs, which complies with the following conditions:
A minimum of 2 SMEs applicants;
Maximum of 5 SMEs applicants;Maximum of 5 SMEs applicants;
at least 1 SME from the CCI ecosystem5 and 1 SME from another ecosystem;
Lead Partner must be from one of the following countries: Italy, Spain, France, Germany or Romania.
NACE codes allowed to participate:
C18 – Printing and reproduction of recorded media
C32 – Other manufacturing
G47 – Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
J58 – Publishing activities
J59 – Motion picture, video and television programme production, sound recording and music publishing activities
J60 – Programming and broadcasting activities
J63 – Information service activities
M71 – Architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and analysis
M74 – Other professional, scientific and technical activities
N77 – Rental and leasing activities
R90 – Creative, arts and entertainment activities
R91 – Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities
It is highly evaluated, but not mandatory, if the consortium includes SMEs from at least 2 different eligible countries.
In addition, it is highly evaluated if the applicant consortium includes SMEs coming from SMP countries7 different from the countries represented in FRIEND CCI consortium. Specific attention needs to be paid to EU-13 countries (Member states which joined the European Union in or after 2004)9 in the calls and those EU regions with which the Euroclusters’ partners had no previous cooperation and shall focus on engaging actors from regions with different levels of economic development. Please note that the applicant consortium will be better evaluated based on the number of partners.
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