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The R&D programme dilemma is to define a detailed roadmap to select the best proposals on this roadmap. This detailed roadmap has to be defined when everybody is more and more conscious that we are in front of a “wall of innovations”. The key question is not so much to have an idea of innovation rather than to decide on where to invest.

Thus when an R&D programme is too directive with the support of so-called experts, many companies may feel that the programme and its experts are pointing in the right direction. They try to respond as best as possible along these directions. The result is that the companies innovate in the direction proposed by the R&D programme and the R&D programme becomes the actual customer.

The heart of the digital transition is “back to the users”, but the true user is the one who hands over €10 to access your product or service. The challenge is to invest the maximum in understanding the customer: his usage, his intention, his interest. So it is also essential for this analysis to be dynamic since time changes everything. Going “back to the user” is therefore a serious focal issue.

With ITEA we prefer to be humble. We feel this user focus is the key task. We feel it can be handled only close to the field, close to the users. It means we decided from the first ITEA Call to be a bottom-up programme. It means we have no experts who say where the next step is, but we trust the guys from our community who are close to the market to find the next user dream. We accept these inputs from our community but we challenge them during the proposal evaluation in terms of how much they have described their targeted customers and their needs, how much their proposal will be innovative enough to make the difference with the state-of-the-art, and how much their consortium can have an impact on the market. When the proposal is selected we tell the consortium they are not working for us but for their customers and for their companies. We are there to help them not to lose the interest of the users and their ability to access the market during the innovation development phase. To facilitate this directly we created the international customer workshops. In these workshops on a dedicated theme (the last one was on Smart Cities) we invite a set of customers from all over the world to share with the industrial leaders of our community (the large companies and the innovative SMEs) what they consider the bottlenecks to the actual deployment of new products. These points are discussed with the industrials and during this workshop we share what could be the next innovations to help solve the first priority bottlenecks for the customers. These inputs are used to generate the next ITEA proposals. These workshops are again a tool to stick to the actual demand of the customers to define the next innovations that should come from ITEA projects.

The ITEA programme is certainly not the customer of ITEA projects; it steers the ITEA projects in the interests of the end-customers.

Tags: end users · Fast exploitation · Innovation · R&D · user demand