Since December 2022, BDI, in collaboration with IDnow, Secure-IC, Cailabs, Unseenlabs and SEKOIA.IO, has set up an innovative methodology to invite companies from the Breton cyber ecosystem to position themselves on calls for projects on a European scale. How do they do this? By inviting peers to share their experiences.
Interesting opportunities but perceived as inaccessible
Launching research and innovation projects thanks to financial support, collaborating with companies and academics and thus benefiting from external expertise, and finally gaining visibility on a European scale. Positioning oneself on European calls for projects has many advantages for a VSE-SME, but can be dizzying. “We started from the observation that few or not enough companies in our cyber ecosystem were taking advantage of European funding opportunities,” notes Sara Minisini, European project manager at BDI, who is in charge of this programme. One of the main reasons for this pitfall is a lack of knowledge about these schemes, according to Noémi Thomazo, R&D funding project manager at IDnow: “This funding can seem inaccessible when you don’t have the necessary knowledge, whereas these are very interesting opportunities for companies, with funding rates that can go up to 100%.”
In order to detect and overcome the obstacles holding back the desires of small structures, BDI has set up an innovative methodology based on the feedback of companies that have already responded to European calls for projects. The Brittany Region’s economic development agency has turned to IDnow in particular. The Rennes-based company is one of the Top 30 French companies to have benefited from European funding under the Horizon 2020 programme(1) thanks to the funding obtained for its SOTERIA project, which was accepted in 2021. “We wanted to work with companies that are experts in these projects. The aim was to have an honest and transparent discourse, particularly on the difficulties, between peers, so that the companies could question each other and share their experience, says Sara Minisini. When a company has succeeded in positioning itself in Europe, you can feel the admiration of its peers. This gives a lot of hope and motivation.”
Workshops to prepare to find partners
The first stage of this journey took place during the Cyber Breakfast on 16 December 2022, in the form of a round table. The feedback from the cluster of experts built around BDI with IDNow, Secure-IC, Cailabs, Unseenlabs and SEKOIA.IO was rich in lessons on the steps to be taken, the time required, the resources to be mobilised and the impact of these European projects on companies’ strategies. “The main conclusion is that European projects can be interesting because they allow to integrate into a company strategy and to reach objectives within this framework.”
This was followed by two workshops for companies already involved in a longer-term approach. After feedback and information gathering, the objective this time was to present the various possible funding schemes and how to find partners. Through which networks? With which tools? What are the best practices to follow? To answer these questions, BDI relied, in addition to the Breton cluster of experts, on the presence of national experts such as Frédéric Perlant, member of the National Contact Point, and Marie-Sophie Masselot, Business developer at CEA Leti in Grenoble. Three companies were able to present their pitch to the French research and innovation community after these workshops: Glimps, Silicom and Skyld Labs. “These workshops are beneficial on several levels, explains Oliver Gesny, head of the embedded cybersecurity division at Silicom. Firstly, we were able to establish new relationships with the Breton R&D ecosystem. Secondly, a lot of information was given on the type of calls for projects. We also learnt additional things thanks to Noémi, particularly on how to put together dossiers and how to find partners to participate in consortiums. Above all, we learned that there are many events in Paris, Brussels or in Europe to present our projects before submitting them.”
The next major milestone in this European journey will be the upcoming SMI2G (Security Mission Information and Innovation Group). The companies accompanied throughout this European journey will go to Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis), on 10 and 11 May 2023, with the aim of finding and convincing the ideal partners to position themselves on the next calls for projects, which are due to close in November.