ICT changing the way we do things
The ICT sector is directly responsible for 5% of European GDP, with a market value of € 660 billion annually, but it contributes far more to overall productivity growth (20% directly from the ICT sector and 30% from ICT investments). This is because of the high levels of dynamism and innovation inherent in the sector, and the enabling role the sector plays in changing how other sectors do business. At the same time, the social impact of ICT has become significant – for example, the fact that there are more than 250 million daily internet users in Europe and virtually all Europeans own mobile phones has changed life style.
With the on-going developments in consumer electronics, the lines between digital devices are fading away. Services are converging and moving from the physical into the digital world, universally accessible on any device, be it a smartphone, tablet, personal computer, digital radio or high-definition television.
This great potential of ICT can be mobilised through a well-functioning virtuous cycle of activity. Attractive content and services need to be made available in an interoperable and borderless internet environment. This stimulates demand for higher speeds and capacity, which in turn creates the business case for investments in faster networks.
But while the transformational power of ICT is clear, serious challenges must also be confronted in order to harness it. We build, promote and support R&D and Innovation initiatives for the realization of this view:
We are particularly active in the areas of IT-based services and Location-based services, in which SMEs are playing a driving role.
RTDI now holds the Presidency of EARIT, the European Association of Research in Information Technologies, borne to support the cross-sector coordination on the convergence of IT, telecom and media and promote advancement in software-based services in Europe and beyond.
One of our favourite examples
INTERVIEW TO LORENA BOURG
Profile: R&D and Innovation Director in ARIADNA S.L., a Spanish SME in the field of ICT for Smart Cities and Social Inclussion and the leader of the STORM project.
STORM is an EU R&D funded project in the field of ICT that aims at helping EU municipalities provide new services to their citizens by taking advantage of the cloud-based paradigm. The project consortium includes SMEs, Large Enterprises and municipalities from United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. Project budget is 3,8 million euros, with an European Commision funding contribution of 1,9 million euros. STORM will start in the first weeks of 2014.
Q: What does STORM mean for you? What new opportunities does it bring to you?
A: STORM represents for us both a challenge and an extraordinary professional opportunity. The project is directly related to our core business areas: Smart Cities, design and implementation of Open Innovation and user-driven methodologies as well as software development in Cloud (Internet of Services) and Internet of the Future.
Q: How has RTDI helped you achieve this project? What do you value the most in the work done by RTDI?
A: As you know, we have worked with RTDI in the past, especially in the PEOPLE project, and our experience with them has been always very positive. Now, talking about STORM, RTDI, besides being one of the key partners in the design of business models for the services that will be implemented by the project, they have been crucial also in the construction and improvement of the technical and economic aspects of the project proposal, providing their extensive experience and support before, during and after its submission to Europe. Also, I think it's important to mention the great support and expertise provided throughout the negotiation phase with the European Commission. RTDI has supported us every day, with great commitment and professionalism, solving complex situations and helping us mediate with the rest of partners and the Commission in this decisive stage.
Q: What are your plans for the future, now?
A: The future is to continue to look to Europe and use STORM to put us as a leader in our sector at national and European level. The opportunity provided by this project for the formation of long-term partnerships with governments, universities, research institutes and companies across Europe is really unique. Furthermore, the main results of the project will be services in the Cloud to be used by thousands of European citizens and public institutions, enabling us to provide future support and additional services. This may also positions ourselves as European reference in the design and implementation of innovative services for all citizens, thus contributing to the development and improvement of our cities and their shift to Smart Cities.
Q: What would you tell to other SMEs?
A: I think the most important in order to carry out new projects and grow is to think in a creative way while ambitious, always having clear your technological needs and, which properly guided and put well into value with the help of companies such as RTDI can get the spark needed to implement them successfully. A good strategy in R&D and Innovation, consistent with the objectives of the company and relying on experts, I believe it is, in my opinion, one of the best ways any SMEs can choose in order to internationalize its activity, get funding and grow in an organic and sustainable manner.