Smart financing required for Smart Industry Field Labs

A working group, comprising representatives of the Province of Zuid-Holland, Brainport and the Dutch Government, will consider the funding of Field Labs. That way, they will be able to make an even bigger contribution to the innovation power of the Dutch economy.

The reason for this working group is a TNO-research ordered by the Economic Board Zuid-Holland (EBZ), the Province Zuid-Holland and Brainport Development. It shows that Smart Industry Field Labs, practical environments in which companies and knowledge institutions develop, test, and implement Smart Industry solutions, often face problems with funding, even though they are of great importance to the adoption of digitisation and new technologies by the Dutch industry. The 29 Field Labs, of which more than half in Zuid-Holland and Eindhoven, not only are short of funds, but also have problems applying for funding. The obstacle they come up against is often described as a multitude of different instruments and uncertain application procedures.

Clear criteria

The present situation is difficult for the initiators of Field Labs and compromises the important part of these open-innovation environments. Applying clear-cut core criteria would mean an important step towards the better support, assessment and funding of Field Labs. The TNO-research shows that there are 4 different types of Field Lab, aimed at renewal of knowledge and technology (type 1), driven by demos and business (type 2), aimed at the development of skills (type 3) or a combination of these activities (type 4) Type 4 in particular, which focuses on the development of knowledge, on the application in business, and on education, is considered the ‘ideal type’ Field Lab. The research also includes possible growth strategies that the Field Labs may use in their further development.