Sneak peek at first results of SmartEEs support

SmartEEs financial support to Innovative Companies becomes ever more evident as first prototypes and business plans start to materialize following detailed planning and several month implementation of selected application experiments. Innovative Companies have been intensively working in cooperation with SmartEEs technical and business partners, such as VTT, EURECAT, TNO, CPI, CEA, AMIRES, BLUMORPHO, and EBN on developing new products and positioning themselves on new markets. In this article we offer you a sneak peek at their first results but stay tuned for public deliverables of the selected Application Experiments which will be soon published on the SmartEEs website.

Flexible electronics enables to produce thin and lightweight the Internet of things (IoT) devices. Finnish company Small Data Garden (SDG) recently developed (supported by SmartEEs) a prototype of a new device based on flexible electronics/substrate (IOTSU® Flexi), ideal for asset or cold chain monitoring, logistics in general and supporting services. It enables monitoring of acceleration, orientation, positioning, temperature and other parameters. SDG is currently looking for partners willing to start the piloting phase and real-life scenario development. AMIRES supports SDG in business development and creation of strategic partnerships.

Through its collaboration with SmartEEs, UWINLOC’s aim is to develop a new batterryless flexible tag combining the accuracy of Ultra Wide Band (30cm) with the ease of use of RFID. This new technology they are working on with EURECAT will be of interest in many application fields including logistics, retail and industry 4.0 strategies. BLUMORPHO has studied customer requirements in three different business verticals: the manufacturing industry, the hospitals logistics and the luxury industry; promoting the Flexible U-Tag.

UWB is known for the capability to deliver a real time location of assets with the highest possible accuracy, it is so far available in a rigid packaging. Flexible electronics will permit a conformal integration of UWB tags on any shape, being a gas bottle or power tools. The proprietary batteryless technology of UWINLOC will permit a unique combination of value-added features.

Thanks to SmartEEs’ support, the Finnish company MoveSole will enhance their current product with the implementation of additional features such as a temperature sensor, an accelerometer developed by TNO and more, while maintaining an ultra-thin concept, the MoveSole signature, and guaranteeing no interference with the gait analysis. With BLUMORPHO’s support, MoveSole is refining its unique value proposition and access to finance. The opportunities expected from this new product are related to telemedicine and physiotherapy. These new features will permit a more accurate monitoring of people at risk like diabetic patients.

The Dutch company ItoM Medical, engaged into ORIGAMO application experiment with CPI, is working on the development of a new smart T-shirt to monitor diaphragm muscle activity with a dedicated electromyogram. The company applied to SmartEEs to benefit from dry electrodes to optimize the interface with the patient and get high quality data with low interference. SmartEEs is an important milestone for the company development plan to design a medical garment which will enable the thoracic EMG, heart rate and breathing to be measured and hence allow better prevention of Asthma attacks, improving the quality of life of children with severe Asthma. With the support of BLUMORPHO, the company is challenging its go to market strategy and roadmap to market. As a next step the company is looking to raise public or private investment to further support the development of the product which is expected to be launched in 2020.

La manufacture à Félix, a French company, is an equipment manufacturer of sporting articles made of wood. Within SmartEEs the company collaborates with CEA in order to develop an electric – all-wheel drive – long-skate. The product will be capable of being geared without a remote control through built-in pressure sensors allowing the user to accelerate or brake. Auxiliary IoT services will be integrated to enrich the skateboarder’s experience, by proposing complementary services (circuits, geolocation, etc.). EBN supports Villacampa on its go to market strategy and on beta-testing the product with users from outdoor leisure or sustainable & smart mobility areas.

Interview with Sean Bolton, CPI

It is our pleasure to introduce Sean Bolton, the Project Manager in CPI who he has a strong process development engineering background with a demonstrated history of working in the research industry. Within SmartEEs project, Sean is responsible for the service delivery management and portfolio management of the selected Application Experiments (AEs). In this interview he will be elaborating on his experiences and major challenges with management of the first three cut-off selected AEs.

 

 

 

 

    1. What it the role of CPI in the SmartEEs project?

CPI, as an RTO, is providing expertise and equipment to ensure ICs developing projects can do them with greater speed and less risk than would happen if they were to develop projects on their own. CPI is leveraging knowledge or capital equipment from previous EU and UK projects to highlight and then overcome problems with individual AEs.

CPI is also managing some of the work packages or tasks within SmartEEs to ensure a smooth flow of information between ICs and RTOs.

 

    1. When did you join the SmartEEs project? How would you describe your first experience with the SmartEEs project and partners?
  1. CPI, along with many of the RTOs, started working on an FP7 project COLAE and therefore were supporting the bid writing of the project from its inception. As the project was developed with the collaboration partners each has contributed something extra to ensure a well-run and interesting project with very interesting AEs.

    The collaboration partners have worked well together on several projects and so there is a good understanding and respect for each other’s skills and expertise. SmartEEs has been especially successful with the outreach to SMEs and the delivery of new prototypes and demonstrators.

    Myself, I joined the SmartEEs project late in 2018, about 13 months after the SmartEEs project had started. I came in with a fresh pair of eyes and not a clue what was going on! However, I quickly got up to speed with the project as the partners were very helpful and took the time to clearly explain areas I lacked understanding. I have good attention to detail, with which I noticed little discrepancies that longer serving partners had missed; each time that I had raised these with the SmartEEs partners, they could have easily been unwelcoming to someone new picking away at little details. However, they were open to my comments and suggestions, and we worked collaboratively to address them; just one of many reasons why I love being involved in this project.

     

    1. You have been assigned the roles of a Service Delivery Manager and a Portfolio Manager within the SmartEEs project. Could you tell us a bit more about the two roles, and what are the major differences between them?

     

  2. A Service Delivery Manager is a form of Project Manager, who is assigned to an AE and they work for the organisation providing the IC with the technical services. Their role is to manage the overall progress of the AE, ensuring all is running to plan. As well as making sure the AE is delivered on time and cost, the SDM plays an important part in making sure that the quality of services delivered is of an acceptable standard and that potential impact (such as IP, technical developments and market opportunities) are captured for the IC to later exploit.

    A Portfolio Manager oversees the SDMs and the progress of all AEs, each month each AE’s progress is reported to the portfolio manager and can make an assessment on how well the AE is doing. From the assessment, the portfolio manager can make a judgement on if the AE or SDM needs more support or if the AE is fine without any intervention. This information can then be reported to the wider consortium. Additionally, it is the portfolio manager’s responsibility to make sure the SDMs are managing their AEs to a good standard which is consistent across the AEs.

    The key differences are:

    • The portfolio manager provides the SDM’s with the support and tools to run an AE, whereas the SDM provides the support directly to the AE and IC
    • An SDM runs an AE, whereas, the portfolio manager oversees the progress of all the AEs
    • The SDM is responsible for reporting on the specifics of the AE and the Portfolio Manager is responsible for compiling this information to report it to funding authorities and project partners.

     

    1. How many Application Experiments do you currently manage as a Service Delivery Manager? What is your relationship with the selected Innovative Companies (ICs)?

     

  3. I have had 3 AE’s, one is currently live, one was cancelled due restrictions in the ICs own funding mechanisms and one is currently in the contractual development phase.

    As an SDM, I aim to be helpful and accommodating to the IC; I encourage collaborative behaviour between the IC and the teams working on the AE. As AEs only have up to 9 months to develop and produce a prototype, I must make sure that progression on all sides (IC, business services and technical support) is happening according to the plan; I find that taking an honest approach to inform the IC about the progress is best to overcome any challenges that I can directly influence that may arise.

    In general, I aim to establish a trusting relationship with the IC and to provide them with the confidence that they will have a successfully developed and produced prototype at the end of the AE; so that they can look to move closer to commercialising their product.

     

    1. How many other Service Delivery Managers do you currently interact with? What is your relationship with them?

     

  4. There are now 10 other SDMs since the last round of AEs being selected in May. I have met many of them in person and between us, we recognise the value that each other brings to the portfolio. The backgrounds of the SDMs are very diverse and we can learn a lot from each other. My favourite part of working on SmartEEs is meeting and working with the amazing people that are also involved with the project.

     

    1. What are the major challenges you face in the two duties you perform? Which role do you prefer?

     

The biggest challenge is balancing priorities. As well as these two duties, I have other commitments to the SmartEEs project; I am a work package leader and I also oversee a large task to do with the delivery of AEs. My preferred role is that of the portfolio manager, as it is a new area for me and I find that overseeing and reporting on the successful delivery of multiple projects/AE very rewarding. Alongside SmartEEs, I manage many other development projects, so portfolio management is also a new and exciting challenge for me to gain experience in.

 

  1.  
    1. What are the major risks in the delivery of the Application Experiments? How do you deal with them?

     

  2. The major risks that we face in the delivery of AEs are unforeseen delays, scope creep and technical barriers. These are all common risks to a technical prototype development project. The delays often occur because there are many known unknowns during development; for example, materials might not be known until the AE is in delivery and once selected it may be found that the lead time is 2-months out of the 9-month AE. Technical development is not easy, as developments progress new technical challenges can arise. Scope creep can occur when planning is poor or if the IC is asking for more than what was originally specified. Therefore, we start to consider ways in which to deliver a successful project with the IC whilst we draft the contract (Service Delivery Agreement), this allows us to consider materials, plan delivery with contingency and work with the IC to mutually agree on the specifications of the prototype; minimising the risks stated above. If a risk does become an issue or increases then the SDMs are skilled in dealing with it and they also have support from their own organisation, as well as the SmartEEs partners to help them.

     

    1. How long does an Application Experiment approximately last? When can we expect to see the first prototypes of the AEs?

     

  3. AEs last up to 9 months and the first round of AEs are beginning to end now, so you will be able to see the first prototypes start to emerge very soon!

     

    1. What are your priorities for the upcoming period?

     

  4. As an SDM, I plan to work more closely with the ICs of my AEs to get a better understanding of what ICs need from SDMs. As a Portfolio Manager, I am working with the other SDMs to review and document the role of an SDM to provide guidance notes to future SDMs who are new to SmartEEs and to implement continuous improvement of the role and how it is executed.

     

    1. Thank you for your time. What would be your message for the Innovative Companies who would be interested in applying to the SmartEEs Call for Application Experiments?

     

  5. SmartEEs provides ICs with an excellent opportunity to take their concept ideas through to prototype, whilst accessing business support and guidance through our business service providers; which will help you accelerate your prototype to market. You will not find many other opportunities that have all this service in one place and deliver it within a year of your application submission; the range of skills and capabilities across the SmartEEs consortium is very impressive. The funding opportunity is currently a very attractive package too!

SmartEEs Open Call – 8 proposals selected for the 4th cut-off date

Following the evaluation process of proposals submitted by the 4th cut-off date, the SmartEES consortium has selected 8 proposals to proceed with the contracting phase. The projects are focused on integrating flexible electronics into advanced new products.

Altogether 18 proposals were received for this cut-off date, all of which were evaluated by the SmartEEs Evaluation Panel. The funding amount for each of the selected projects will be decided during the contracting phase.

If you would like to know more about the 4th cut-off evaluation results, please check the Public Evaluation Report.

If you are interested in SmartEEs funding opportunities, you can apply anytime until 20 September 2019. The last cut-off date for evaluations is 20 September 2019 (deadline: 17:00 CET).

What is Flexible, organic and printed electronic all about?

SmartEEs – Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing, offers an organized European innovation network to facilitate SMEs’ access to competences and technologies to implement flexible electronics in their product lines.

Let’s have a closer look at who are SmartEEs’ experts and what are the solution SmartEEs can provide!

The word of the experts

Dr. Christian May, Head of Business Unit Flexible Organic Electronics at Fraunhofer FEP, explains why it was important for his team to be part of SmartEEs consortium.

Fraunhofer FEP has more than 10 years of experience in research and development of flexible organic electronics and their integration into later applications in various industries. Our focus on always application-oriented research and customer-specific solutions matching the requirements of industry and SMEs predestines Fraunhofer FEP as a partner in this European innovation hub.”

What were the main challenges Fraunhofer FEP had to face when developing those technologies?

Starting from the first small OLED on rigid substrates, our scientists have now been able to establish a broad-based competence center for flexible organic electronics. In addition to the development of flexible OLEDs in sheet-to-sheet processes, we also have the possibility of cost-efficient technology development of OLEDs in roll-to-roll processes. “

What are the main achievements you would like to highlight?

We can proudly look back on a large number of pioneering projects with the automotive industry, which have enabled us to build up very extensive know-how in the development of organic based components and OLED lighting solutions precisely for this industry. This has also led us to a joint development project for OLED integration in automotive interiors as part of SmartEEs. In the future we of course hope to be able to contribute our expertise to other interesting projects as part of the network”.

You recently published a paper to outline the present status of Roll-to-Roll OLED fabrication on ultra-thin glass “OLED Manufacturing on Flexible Substrates Towards Roll-to-Roll”. https://doi.org/10.1557/adv.2019.62 What was the aim of this study?

We know that the biggest obstacle to Roll-to-Roll mass production for OLED lighting application is to solve the challenge of reliability because OLED devices are still very sensitive to moisture and oxygen. This study aims at testing the feasibility and effectiveness of Roll-to-Roll OLEDs fabrication on ultra-thin glass and at comparing its performance with conventional OLEDs fabrication on small rigid glass in lab-scale. Thanks to our experiments, we were able to demonstrate that given proper barrier materials, Roll-to-Roll OLED technology can deliver OLEDs with comparable performance as sheet-to-sheet technology. This will enhance the OLED production capability and will reduce this technology manufacturing cost. This also mean new application fields that we are eager to explore.

What kind of application could be now developed that wouldn’t have been before?

Beside OLED lighting for automotive interior and exterior we also think on further applications in transportation, like aircraft cabins and rail vehicles. Other fields of application are in healthcare, e.g. for wound healing, but also the integration in wearables, textiles and particularly furniture. Last, but not least, OLED enables a high quality human centric lighting.

Full speed ahead for SmartEEs at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019

Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow’s markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs – Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.

It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life – printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we come across test strips for blood glucose measurement or while gripping in the refrigerator in the form of labels or anti-counterfeiting protection on packaging. The day continues with many looks at the mobile phone with OLED display or the Smart Watch on the arm. On the way to work, sensors monitor seat occupancy detection, touch displays support navigation, and OLED tail lights light up the car to say goodbye when you arrive at your destination.

The market for printed electronics and flexible organic electronics has been growing continuously for years. Growth forecasts are particularly high for the thin-film, organic and large-area electronics (TOLAE) market, in which Europe has a strong research and innovation position. This offers great opportunities for European industry. So far, however, European small and medium-sized enterprises have had very limited access to these technologies and have not been able to build up and develop the skills to use them to benefit from them. Starting with a broad knowledge base to convert the TOLAE technologies into own ideas and innovative products, to open up potential markets and finally to build up a long-term functioning network of partners in order to jointly use the possibilities of the technologies within the companies.

This is where the European project SmartEEs – Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing, launched some two years ago, starts. It offers an organized European innovation network for access to competences and technologies for printed and thin film electronics and beyond that support for the implementation of innovations up to commercialization.

One of the most important pioneering industries to have included flexible organic electronics in their future programs and innovation roadmaps is the automotive industry. The lighting designers of the leading European automotive manufacturers now use flexible light sculptures made of OLEDs to create accents and statements for these technologies in their products and cars. With their possibilities such as segmentation, signage, color variability, transparency and light weight, flexible OLEDs offer new design worlds, e.g. on plastic or ultra-thin glass. Flexible touch panels, curved displays and printed sensors are also a must-have.

The Fraunhofer FEP has more than 10 years of experience in research and development of flexible organic electronics and their integration into later applications in various industries. Especially the focus on always application-oriented research and customer-specific solutions matching the requirements of industry and SMEs predestines the Fraunhofer FEP as a partner in this European innovation hub. Dr. Christian May, Head of Business Unit Flexible Organic Electronics, explains the role of Fraunhofer FEP and its portfolio: “What began with the first rigid luminous surfaces, our scientists have now been able to establish to a broad-based competence center for flexible organic electronics. In addition to the development of flexible OLEDs in sheet-to-sheet processes, we also have the possibility of cost-efficient technology development of OLEDs in roll-to-roll processes. In the meantime, we can proudly look back on a large number of pioneering projects with the automotive industry, which have enabled us to build up very extensive know-how in the development of organic components and OLED lighting solutions precisely for this industry. This has also led us to a joint development project for OLED integration in automotive interiors as part of SmartEEs. In the future we of course hope to be able to contribute our expertise to other interesting projects as part of the network”.

How exactly does the SmartEEs construct work? In addition to the dissemination of TOLAE technologies, concrete application projects are selected and implemented to demonstrate the transfer of technologies into new products, processes and business models. A Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) was created as a platform for this purpose. This ecosystem consists of the technology services of the technology providers, which are linked with services from the areas of product development, business support and financing support. These are implemented and offered as a 1-stop shop in order to realize the transfer of TOLAE technologies into the economy. The DIH can organize the provision of innovation funding to accelerate the industrial and societal introduction of new digital products, services and business models that realize the potential of applications with advanced organic photovoltaics, flexible displays, OLED lighting and integrated smart systems. A total of 4.5 million euros are available for this purpose, which SmartEEs are planning to invest in 20 application projects. Ideas for innovative projects by SMEs have already been submitted via the previous 4 cut-off dates and will be allocated and processed by the project partners.

Meanwhile, the 10 project partners can look back on the Half-Term of the project. SmartEEs coordinator Jérôme Gavillet takes stock: “So far, 8 interesting projects on thin-film and printed electronics and also on the development and integration of flexible OLEDs in new materials for a wide variety of industries such as logistics, health or sports have been handled by the SmartEEs partners. The results achieved show that the hub concept of the EU project is taking effect. The next and last cut-off date is 20 September 2019, when innovative companies can again submit project ideas to the consortium.” All SMEs and start-ups from both technical and traditional sectors with innovative ideas for new applications in a wide variety of areas such as automotive, architecture, electronics, energy, lighting, logistics, medicine, packaging, printing or design, fashion and many more can apply for projects within SmartEEs.

The project partners and the consortium will jointly present the technologies of the individual partners and the joint project at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany, from 21 to 23 May 2019, with a SmartEEs joint booth no. A4557, in Hall 4.

SmartEEs at Automotive Interiors Expo 2019:

Joint booth:

No. A4557, Hall 4
Messe Stuttgart, Germany

Talk:

Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 2.00 – 3.40 pm, Hall 4
“SmartEEs – accelerating the uptake of flexible electronics”, Fraunhofer FEP for SmartEEs