In these unprecedented times, SMEs across Europe are facing profound transformation processes in which the technological challenges are becoming ever greater and, at the same time, the need of embracing the twin (digital and green) transition needs to be tackled quickly and decisively. Therefore, a strong positioning on the national and international market is a crucial success factor for small and medium-sized enterprises. External support through cooperations can be an important factor, but these are rarely free or without strings attached.
The Vanguard Initiative and its initiated SME Success Stories support program precisely tackles these challenges. Three Enterprises (AddCat B.V., Remembrane Srl. and Bond High-Performance 3D Technology) have been selected and supported by building cross-regional innovation practices. The program aimed to promote the participation of these companies in the activities of the Vanguard Initiative in order to foster interregional value chains and accelerate market adoption of their products and services.
The selected companies not only benefited from the strong network and experience of the Vanguard Initiative experts, but were also able to stimulate and expand interregional partnerships and collaborations in the Vanguard regions through an innovation voucher.
We met with a representative of one of the selected companies, AddCat B.V., to discuss their experiences of the SME Success Stories Program and the story behind their enterprise.
The SME success stories program has had quite a lot of success, with 14 SMEs applying for the call, representing more than 10 member regions of the Vanguard Initiative, to what do you think that success is owed and what was the added value of the program for AddCat?
We learned about the SME success stories program through the Vanguard 3D pilot; the project management was actively communicating about this program and we saw a direct possibility to further improve our product with the voucher and a collaboration was set-up rapidly with another partner in the extensive Vanguard network. Thanks to the SME success stories program, we managed to implement quick collaboration with our partner, the ProM facility of Trentino Sviluppo, put in place the design improvements needed to further enhance the performance of our products. It gave AddCat the resources and access to professional knowledge about 3D metal printing, software, CFD and printing capacity.
For us, the voucher turned out to be a high value project that gave an opportunity to access knowledge, capacity and specilization that was not present in AddCat. This prospect is probably what is at the root of the success of the program, and what motivated many SMEs to apply. The program also facilitated cooperation with existing partners, or provided the means to find a partner to collaborate with, and that is really valuable for SMEs in the Vanguard Initiative network.
Speaking of collaboration, could you tell us a bit more about your collaboration with the ProM Facility of Trentino Sviluppo?
At AddCat, we patented a novel invention of combining 3D metal printed structures and oxidation catalysts for air purification purposes. We were looking for an international technology partner to solve the challenge of design optimisation for our innovative air purification catalytic reactor. Improving the product can help AddCat to implement and upscale the business towards commercialization (Technology Readiness Level 8-9).
Trentino Sviluppo, with the involvement of its ProM Facility, contributes with competences and the investments needed for these improvements, also exploiting the possibility to 3D print the products in house.
In short, in the partnership, AddCat provided the necessary requirements, boundary conditions and relevant parameters; and ProM Facility improed the design in 3D, exploiting simulation competences as well, in the end producing the parts and testing them for defects. As conclusion, AddCat will validate the products in a relevant industrial context.
This partnership is very valuable for AddCat, as international collaboration expands knowledge between partners and expands connections across borders. Broader collaboration means that you can create better and faster innovations by working together.
It sounds like the partnership really helped you develop you product further. Could you say a bit more about the product and the story of AddCat?
AddCat was founded at the end of 2019, based upon a patent written by our two founders in 2010. This patent forms the basis of the technical core of AddCat and describes our novel invention. AddCat is based in Geldrop, province of Noord-Brabant (Netherlands) and is situated close to Eindhoven, part of the Brainport region, one of the smartest regions in the world. Brainport delivers high-tech technology worldwide and houses tremendous amounts of innovative companies. AddCat is developing itself to an OEM, delivering air purification systems for the industry helping to solve air quality problems. We focus on different type of emissions ranging from odours ammonia to methane.
Thanks for that and for responding to our questions.
Thank you, and thanks for the support throughout the program, the team was clear in their communication and expectations. Support by mail was given rapidly and follow-up was easy. All together, our expectations were definitely met and we’d definitely recommend SMEs to participate to the SME success stories program because its an opportunity that gave us a specific boost for innovation that would otherwise have costed us much more time and resources. The ease of application and the swift follow-up from Vanguard initiative was highly appreciated and gave us important resources to further advance our technology.