smeSpire, a two-year European Union-funded project enabling geo-ICT Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to turn the INSPIRE challenges into business opportunities, is approaching a turning point. After its first year of life, the smeSpire network has grown from 15 to 230 geo-ICT SMEs in 20 countries and has started the process of drawing-up an inventory of gaps in the skill sets that are needed to address in a cost-effective manner all aspects of modern geospatial information management in an e-government setting. In the next six months, the consortium will finalize the gap analysis, following which solutions will be proposed to smeSpire network members to mature their skill sets, and thus to increase their market potential.
The value of the smeSpire network is not only in the acquisition of new knowledge, but also in bringing it into fruition. The network bridges SMEs and other, non-SME organizations that key players in the development and implementation of INSPIRE. This will create new opportunities for SMEs participating in the network.
"We are very happy to have joined the smeSpire network" said Ken Harkin, Business Development Manager at Sparx Systems, from Victoria State, Australia. "I'm confident that networking with smeSpire will be mutually beneficial. Australia is looking with great interest to INSPIRE, and we feel that with Sparxsystems involvement we give an international dimension to smeSpire that we hope will lead to even more business opportunities." Sparx Systems develops Enterprise Architect, the industry standard for the modelling of data and systems.
Two additional upcoming opportunities are reserved for the geo-ICT SMEs:
The CEN/TC 287 award for excellence and innovation at the INSPIRE Conference 2013 in Florence from the 23rd to the 27th of June, co-sponsored by smeSpire, Sparx Systems and GiStandards, with the most innovative SME receiving €2500.
The dialogue session "Leveraging SMEs' strength for INSPIRE" at the Geospatial World Forum 2013 in Rotterdam from the 13th to the 16th of May, jointly organized by Geospatial Media and Communications, JRC and smeSpire, where selected SMEs will receive from JRC a financial contribution to partially recover their participation costs.
"SMEs will have a vital role in the success of INSPIRE and its evolution. These events are a recognition of that fact, and form an excellent opportunity for geo-ICT SMEs to showcase INSPIREd innovation, but also to voice the obstacles they encounter in implementing and using INSPIRE," said Paul Smits of JRC.
"What is very promising this year is the award's additional track reserved for geo-ICT SMEs presenting innovative applications. Besides the academic institutions, the private sector, and particularly SMEs, can be innovation leaders as well", said Martin Ford, Secretary of CEN/TC 287 European standards body for geographic information, in unison with Danny Vandenbroucke, Secretary of AGILE, Association of Geographic Information Laboratories for Europe, who is in charge of the award evaluation process.
At the other extreme of the spatial scale covered by the smeSpire Network, two different national events are worth a mention: the 4th HUNAGI Conference, in Budapest, on the 4th of April 2013 and the two workshops organized in Germany by the smeSpire partner PSU.
"We are very glad to have a representation of the smeSpire project at our 4th Conference, in order to strengthen our membership in the smeSpire Network and to attract more Hungarian geo-ICT SMEs into the INSPIRE implementation processes" said Gabor Remetey, HUNAGI Secretary General.
"During the two workshops held in Munich the 19th of March and in Munster the 20th of March, several German geo-ICT SMEs have learnt the opportunities offered by INSPIRE" said Johannes Gnädinger, PSU managing director.
Not yet member of the smeSpire Network? Join us at www.smespire.eu
Started at the beginning of May the project "smeSpire - A European Community of SMEs built on Environmental Digital Content and Languages".
It is a two-years Support Action of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission for Research and Technological Development, funded by the Directorate General Information Society and Media within the EC’s SME initiative on digital content and languages.
Epsilon Italia is the project coordinator and leads a consortium with 15 partners (8 of them being SMEs) coming from 12 Member States.
The main project aim is to support geo-ICT European SMEs to capitalize the benefits of the INSPIRE Directive, which "establishes an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe to support Community environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment".
This will be achieved through several concrete actions, the most important being:
1) an assessment of the market potential for geo-ICT SMEs in relation to INSPIRE;
2) training packages, usable within an e-learning platform, designed to train professionals working in the management of environmental digital content related to INSPIRE;
3) a Best Practice catalogue in the field of the management of environmental digital content across Europe;
4) dissemination events organized in each of the participating 12 Member States to spread the results at national and local level;
5) a network of SMEs and other institutional stakeholders aiming at bridging the gap between the INSPIRE driven demand of environmental digital data and the industry-driven offer of geo-ICT solutions, stimulating, encouraging and facilitating the participation of SMEs;
6) a business model aiming at enabling already established and new geo-ICT SMEs in Europe to convert technological innovation which is inside the INSPIRE implementation process into economic value;
7) a database containing information about the geo-ICT SMEs in Europe, useful to map competences from SMEs across Europe and to conduct business intelligence studies and analysis;
8) general awareness about the importance of interoperability, about the EIS/EIF (European Interoperability Strategy/European Interoperability Framework) and about relevant results from the EC ISA programme (Interoperable Solutions for the European Public Administrations).
The smeSpire project will be presented at the INSPIRE Conference 2012 which will take place at Istanbul from 23 to 27 of June, within a dedicated workshop entitled "Are SMEs ready to capitalize INSPIRE benefits?", in which several SMEs – also non project partners – will tell their success stories.
Further project details and updates are available at www.smespire.eu.