Bringing together OITBs to discuss challenges, best practices and the need for future support and feedback to the EC on the OITB program.
June 28, 2022 - June 30, 2022
Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) projects are a relatively new initiative in the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 program. This year, an exhibition called the OITB Village ran alongside the IndTech2022 Conference in Grenoble. The exhibition was meant to serve as a platform to bring together all 25 currently existing OITBs and showcase their projects, exchange lessons learned and provide feedback to the European Commission (EC).
The 14 OITBs that were present were hosted in a dedicated tent where they were able to network with other EU project coordinators and representatives of Single Entry Points (SEPs). During the first two days, this special exhibition area allowed participants to learn more about other OITB Villagers and served as a stage to host pitch sessions from OITB representatives and OITB end-users.
The OITB Village overlapping with IndTech2022 was meant to give conference delegates the opportunity to visit the exhibition area where OITBs were ready to showcase their work. This was unfortunately not fully realized as the expected number of target audience attendees consisting mainly of SMEs was not met. However, many representatives from the European Commission as well as policy makers from EU Member States were present and took part in in-depth discussions on various aspects of the programs including services, emerging results, and prototypes.
The third day of the OITB Village was specifically dedicated to a series of "Best Practices" Workshops focusing on key aspects of OITBs, namely Single-Entry Points (SEPs) and Open Calls. SEPs are legal entities that act as the sole interface between external customers and internal OITB members. Open Calls are funded OITB initiatives managed by the SEPs which awards funded services to external companies.
Presenters at the workshops elaborated on a variety of subjects such as legal and administrative challenges, setting up and running SEPs, as well as best practices for the Open Calls. A lively Q&A session complemented by feedback from representatives of the EC helped everyone gain new insights and learn from each other. It became clear that while the idea of establishing SEPs and running Open Calls present significant advantages to customers, specifically enabling SMEs to overcome hurdles moving their ideas forward, there still remains much room for improvement in the design of the program. The conversation on the future sustainability of SEPs and OITBs and the need for more support and feedback to the EC continues on after the event, and we as NGM and MIH are glad to be part of it.