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Start of the ITE project – Towards A European Wide Intelligent Textile Environment: Building, Linking And Bonding

Since July 1, 2004 ARC Fund has become member of an international consortium implementing this Sixth Framework Programme project. ITE combines the efforts of 22 partners from 16 countries, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Turkey, Cyprus, Slovakia and Malta, and it has duration of 24 months.

The overall objective of the ITE project is:
"Deployment and canalisation of companies' human capital, in order to increase their sensitisation and activation towards innovation, through their participation in suitable EU projects".

ITE project builds on the experience gained from an earlier BENTEX project and goes many steps further in both horizontal and vertical directions. The core motivator of BENTEX was the Technology Management Benchmarking, while the heart of ITE stems from one of the main conclusions of BENTEX: It is the Human Factor that adopts technology, absorbs knowledge and innovates through the efficient use of equipment and know-how. It is the people that make the difference.

The ITE project, combining the most recent outcomes in the field of innovation research and the experience of the BENTEX project aims at:

  • The wide and intense dissemination of Community research initiatives - namely the current 6th Framework Programme but also the forthcoming 7th Framework Programme - to SMEs in the textiles sector in old EU member states (such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany), new EU members (Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia and Cyprus) and candidate countries (Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey);
  • The coaching of companies towards FP6 research projects and particularly the new instruments adopted in favour of SMEs, such as Integrated Projects (IP) for SMEs. Links will be also established with FP7 instruments as well;
  • The creation of bridges with the BENTEX project by further diffusing and disseminating technology benchmarking practices and results, and by exploiting its "products" and "achievements", i.e. databases, benchmarking self-audit tool, web platform, etc. to enforce research cooperations through workshops, seminars, and presentations;
  • The establishment of a trans-sectoral network of experts to transfer successful paradigms from other sectors and business environments;
  • The in-depth analysis of the role of human factor in the adoption of innovation within SMEs, as a response to changes and undertaking new challenges (such as, for example, their participation in new research projects);
  • The extraction of best practices in human resources deployment within the top performing European textile companies - derived from the BENTEX project - and their dissemination to a wide audience of SMEs, with the motive of enhancing their active involvement in new research projects.

These objectives will be achieved through seminars and workshops, company visits, benchmarking audits, realisation of in-depth case studies for the participating SMEs. In addition, training will be provided to the sector's technological centres located in new EU members and candidate countries to ensure multiplier effects and sustainability. The technological centres act as points of reference anyway in their countries and through this project they will gain access to methodologies, processes and tools in support of their role to promote research and innovation in SMEs, helping them to participate in research projects.

Measurable objectives of the project:
The Building Challenge. Many companies claim that people are their most important asset, but few have built the human resources systems, processes or cultures that can adopt innovation, the deeply embedded bias towards financial success. Thus the first peak of ITE is to cultivate the appropriate culture in SMEs in order to evolve their human capital towards adopting innovation.
The Linking Task. Just as there is value in attracting and developing individuals who hold specialized knowledge, there is value in the social networks that enable sharing of that knowledge. Indeed, unless a company actively links, leverages and embeds the pockets of individual - based knowledge and expertise, it risks underutilizing it or, worse, losing it. Thus the second peak is to create networks of experts that will diffuse their knowledge.
The Bonding Process. The third major strategic peak the project must ascend is to develop the engaging, motivating and bonding culture necessary to attract and keep participants (partners and SMEs) committed to the processes, in order to obtain the results described.

The project's workprogram envisages the following activities:

1. Establishing the project platform

  • Development of project framework and communication to consortium partners;
  • Establishment of a Network of Experts - creation of a network of experts who will act as a think-tank, providing the consortium with the appropriate expertise and state-of-the-art practices on Economic and Technological Intelligence;
  • Mapping of the textile industry in the countries involved - overview of the textile sector in each country (size, future trends, major products, major problems etc).

2. Approaching and stimulating SMEs towards research and innovation

  • Organisation of pre-activation seminars to promote the FP6 & benchmarking concept - the Consortium is planning to organise seminars in all participating countries. Information materials presenting FP6 and the ITE initiative will be sent to about 9,000 SMEs so as to create awareness and stimulate them for greater participation;
  • Company coaching, development of individual company profiles for SMEs and identification of suitable EU projects - In order to assist SMEs in finding partners according to their specific needs and profiles, individual company profiles for all interested companies from the participating countries will be developed and submitted to the CORDIS partners search databases.

3. Extracting the importance of the "human factor" towards research and innovation

  • Development of a tool for the case studies - it will be used for conducting case studies focusing on the influence of the Human Factor in the adoption of innovation by companies, as well as on their training needs;
  • Realisation of the case studies;
  • Extraction of Best Practices - The case studies will be analysed in depth with the participation of the relevant companies and the concluding remarks of the clusters will be compared in order to extract best practices on the role of the human factor on innovation adoption, as well as on the training / development and utilisation of the human capital;
  • Experts' network activation - Finalisation of the Best Practices - the lessons learnt from the case studies will be communicated to the network of experts in order to be validated and enriched by their expertise before going public.

4. Technology management benchmarking: Enrichment of the BENTEX database

  • Update of the financial data in the BENTEX countries;
  • Realisation of benchmarking audits - new participants in the project will recruit benchmarking partners (SMEs) from their respective countries, which will target 20 companies in Bulgaria and 101 companies in total;
  • Analysis of the results and reporting - statistical analysis will follow the collection of the information emanating from individual companies. Afterwards, individual benchmarking reports for all companies taking part in the audits will be produced, translated and distributed back.

Bulgarian companies from the textile sector are welcome to take part in the relevant project tasks.

More information on the ITE project is available from:
Mr. Dimitar Ganev
Tel: (02) 9867887, or 9867557

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