The basic premise of Collaborate to Innovate Project (C2I) is that the process of innovation is not solely performed internally within an SME, but is best performed in a co-operative mode with other external organisations. The primary activities associated with the Project are based on this premise and will provide SMEs with the mentoring and organisational support to engage in collaborative alliances and the technical support to develop collaborative ICT platforms in order to facilitate both product and process-related innovations. The Project will develop networks of within-sector and cross-sector, high-growth industrial SMEs and will facilitate the design and implementation of productive collaborative initiatives within and across these networks. This will be done with a view to increase competitive advantage through improved performance.
Most SMEs have insufficient resources and expertise to innovate beyond repeating previous incremental successes. The nature of innovation is increasingly recognised as a shared one and new innovations that lead to step changes in performance increasingly demand that SMEs collaborate. SMEs can and should use external ideas as well as those generated internally in order to advance their products and processes.
This Project concerns the facilitation of collaborative innovation within the wide horizontal and vertical networks of customers, suppliers, competitors and the supporting agencies of SMEs. Collaborative innovation of this kind redefines the boundary between an SME and its surrounding environment, making it more porous and integrated into loosely-coupled networks of different organisations, collectively and individually working toward boosting performance and commercialising new knowledge.
The primary activities associated with the intervention will be to provide SMEs with the mentoring and organisational support to engage in collaborative alliances and the technical support to develop collaborative ICT platforms. Specific SME applications will concern co-design, co-manufacturing and logistics, shared services and aggregated procurement. Some of these applications are primarily horizontal in nature and provide a form of collaboration that is not organic but is co-opetitive that demands specific intervention from an intermediary. Collaborative planning and forecasting is an important vertical application with particular resonance and need in aerospace networks. Furthermore, collaborative practices concerning supplier relationship management (SRM) and customer relationship management (CRM) will be formally implemented in order to improve managerial capability and support the sustainability of the new and/or enhanced collaborative alliances. The implementation of these applications will allow participating SMEs to overcome a lack of internal capabilities and competences, to pool scarce resources, to dramatically improve productivity and to share risk.
The objectives of the C2I Programme are clearly differentiated from other regional projects for the following reasons
- Building on existing network experience and track record of treatments and machining commodity groups can gather momentum and transfer best practice from the aerospace industry to other high growth engineering networks
- myAeroDNA™ offers web-enabled collaborative planning which is a new initiative and has not been implemented on this scale
- Multi-sector / multi-tier / multi-commodity networks developed around mutually beneficial goals such as reduced procurement costs, improved customer demand visibility , improved internal productivity, improved supply chain delivery performance