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EU-funded organisation offers €200,000 in funding to each robotics ‘experiment’

The European Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Robotics Applications organization has opened its first call for experimental proposals.

The EU-funded robotics project says this is its first competitive call for experiment proposals.

Within the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, ESMERA aims to boost robotics innovation by European small and medium-sized enterprises. 

In the context of ESMERA small-scale research projects, so-called “experiments”, will be conducted.

SMEs developing robotic technologies may now apply for providing solutions to predefined real-life challenges.

ESMERA Infographic copy

The respective challenge winners will receive direct financial support through a cascade funding mechanism of up to €200,000 each.

The European Commission launched the ESMERA project in January, 2018 to “unlock the innovation potential of robotics SMEs”.

ESMERA promotes applied robotics technology developed for industrial challenges set by key European companies.

The organization gives SMEs a chance to implement, apply and prove new technologies that address real-life problems and, therefore, already have a market.

The challenge areas

Key European companies have defined eight real-life industrial challenges that seek innovative robotics solutions.

The challenges, that apply to the four areas of:

  • energy;
  • manufacturing;
  • construction; and
  • agri-food.

These areas have been selected because of their innovation potential. They allow multiple approaches and let SMEs be free to explore new directions in developing robotics technologies.

The selection process

The solution design will be carried out in two competitive phases.

  • Phase I: 16 projects, so-called experiments, will be selected to compete in proving their concept.
  • Phase II: 8 winners are selected. They gain industrial leadership and business support to advance their path towards industrializing and commercializing their solutions.

SMEs can propose an experiment on their own or form a small consortium of partners, teaming up with R&D organizations or other companies supplementing their competences. For both phases combined, each team can receive up to €200,000 of funding.

The partner consortium

To boost the technology development by European SMEs, four robotics competence centers open their doors to ESMERA.

They offer high-tech robotic equipment, test environments and expertise to the SMEs, bridging the gap between research and industry:

  • Laboratory for Manufacturing Systems and Automation at the University of Patras (Project Coordinator)
  • Commissarat à l´Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives
  • Technische Universität München
  • Fundación Tekniker

Three facilitators in robotics who have successfully undergone the process themselves provide mentoring and support in developing business cases and managing the complete chain from idea to market:

  • Blue Ocean Robotics
  • Comau
  • RU Robots

SMEs can apply within the open call – which started on August 1st, and goes to October 31st – using the project’s submission page

The testing and evaluation phase will last nine months. In addition, within the ESMERA project, a second open call with new challenges from energy, manufacturing, construction, and agri-food will open in November 2019.