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DigiFed project

Big innovation on a small scale

cascade funding for innovative projects

From a cyber-attack detection system to a smart wine dispenser and sensors for water treatment, these are the 15 small-scale, highly innovative projects that took part in the 2022 edition of the IOT Solutions World Congress (IOTSWC) thanks to DigiFed, a European cascade funding project led by Zabala Innovation. During the three-day international event in Barcelona showcasing the technologies that will disrupt the Internet of Things industry, these SMEs gained visibility and were able to network during a pitching session with venture capitalists.

Implementing a management plan for the sustainability of the Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) federation and promoting the adoption of advanced digital technologies by EU SMEs, the DigiFed project focuses on non-digital companies to encourage the introduction of digital solutions in their product and service offerings. As part of this strategy, its consortium had identified the IOTSWC 2022 as the most important event to attend. Thus, in the Fira Barcelona, DigiFed had a dedicated space of 60 square metres with 15 stands, one for each project, with a wide range of graphic communication and information material created for the occasion.

Two types of cascade funding for innovative projects

DigiFed exhibitors represented several industry sectors at the congress, including agriculture and foodtech, energy, industry 4.0 and many others. These included Friblocs  (a frame integrated bike location and communication system), Albicchiere  (a smart wine dispenser), USAB  (a universal security active Badge), Dynagrid (a software integration combining manufacturing efficiency and quality in additive manufacturing), Touch & Heat (a Near Field Communication (NFC) for electric radiators and space heaters), Waisense Guard (a system for water monitoring in response to Covid-19 pandemic), Safesound (an Intelligent edge-based detection of fire alarms), Smart BMC (a Smart building management system box), Track Log  (a Smart tracking and monitoring system for logistics management), Honey AI (Artificial Intelligence for the honey industry), Ntouch 2.0 (bringing touchless control to industry 4.0), Smart Ramp (reducing the risk on bus access ramps for disabled people supported by AI), IoT-sec-holistic (improving cyber-attack detection more accurately), Instrumentation Technologies and Acciona (providing next-generation sensors for predictive operation of water treatment), and four Generic Experiments communities.

Some of these SMEs have benefited from the more typical cascade funding method offered by DigiFed, the Application Experiment. Others participated in the Digital Challenges and Generic Experiments, two more experimental formulas. The former aims at creating partnerships between large companies and innovative technology SMEs on a specific use case. The latter consists of communities bringing together a group of companies and research institutes around a key technology to bridge the gap between research and SMEs.

DigiFed, an added value

The DigiFed consortium, of which Zabala Innovation is a part, is composed of 11 other partners with expertise in digital technologies and innovation management, including universities and research centres, industrial players, private companies and 5 DIH. They come from nine EU countries.

Overall, DigiFed has provided €4 million in cascading funding to European companies as well as technical and innovation management support amounting to €1.1 million in resources provided by the consortium. Since its launch, the project has supported over 100 companies and funded more than 50 projects.

It now aims to attract a significant number of new users of advanced ICT in manufacturing and more suppliers of innovative technologies, SMEs and medium-sized enterprises. The creation of a sustainable network of DIHs is also expected, bringing European added value to national and regional investments in them. DigiFed also plans to provide DIH services throughout Europe and its regions with high industrial capacity.

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