Why it is important to involve SME’s in research projects

Published on 13 November 2023 by Arnold Lobbrecht

Creating sustainable services to solve problems of weather, drought, flood and climate risks, as well as creating impact during and after the project. That is the role of HydroLogic in Innovation Actions (IA) and Research and Innovation Actions (RIA). We have done so in 15+ projects in which we developed citizen-science apps, real-time data services and user-centric cloud software, including the associated business models together with end-users and launching customers.

The problem

It is often very difficult for EC funded project consortia to identify market potential of innovations, to create trusted business models and to have spinoffs after the project ends. The Horizon Europe work programme requires tangible outputs in terms of products and services that give answers to pressing problems, rather than research and innovation reporting.

In project proposals it should be proven that answers to questions can find their way to market-driven business, which is very difficult to perform for research institutes and universities. Involving market-oriented SMEs in consortia can help to bridge the gap between research and practice. They can involve potential clients and launching customers in the innovation process with relative ease and work with them on case studies and business models to bring services to the market.

Why you need SME’s

One could even say that without such SME’s, the market entry, one of the important objectives of the Commission, is doomed to fail. Moreover, reviewers of proposals usually rank low without such organizations. While reviewers of on-going projects without a clear market focus, usually request consortia to prove that market objectives are met.

HydroLogic is such a market-oriented SME. We focus on tangible project outputs, such as innovative services which work to solve clients’ problems; organize end-user interactions with the after-project-success in mind, and create business models with clients, rather than for clients.

Our successful involvements

We have created many innovative services in projects, using the software which we have developed with earlier EC funding. We have built working business models which ensure that the services continue after the research and innovation stage has ended. Have a look at: www.hydronet.com, www.hydronet.co.za or www.hydronet.co.au. If you are from the Netherlands, check this site: www.hydronet.nl. You will get a glimpse of what we can provide technically. In earlier projects we have developed: integrating software, platforms, downstream services, end-user apps, citizen science apps, business models, and more. And we have created trust with involved clients in and outside the consortia we were teaming up with.

Awards for co-creation

We have won the ‘Partners for Water Award’, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands in 2017. The prize was presented to the consortium coordinated by HydroLogic, because of the cooperation model it adopted, involving research institutions, SME’s, end users and clients, as well as for the effectiveness of creating new weather and climate services with South-African water authorities. Today, 7 years after the innovation project has ended, all developed services are still running and launching of the project period are now clients, who pay yearly subscription fees for the services. A recent end-user review among these clients showed an average ranking of 9.2/10 for usability of the services. For quality of the software with which we create services we won the ‘National ICT Award’ for most innovative software. It was issued by the Dutch ICT industry organization NLdigital, already in the year 2013. Now more than 10 years later, we have a most advanced spatio-temporal water and climate services software, running from the cloud and very scalable to serve many simultaneous users, connected to DIAS, the Copernicus Data Space, the GEOSS platform and many international initiatives where the EC is involved.

15+ successful projects

We have been partner in 15+ EC-funded projects and we have coordinated one. A list of the relevant projects can be found here. With ongoing projects on: continental water availability services using Copernicus data and cloud-based modelling (WaterSENSE – RIA); Nature Based Solutions (NBS) on climate adaptation and resilience in flood prone areas (RECONECT – IA), and; Integration of innovative monitoring networks and services development, based on digital data of the entire hydrological cycle (TWIGA – RIA).

The TWIGA Basin Water Control Room service is an example of a successful project in which HydroLogic has been involved. 

In all these projects we have researched, studied and developed water, weather and climate services and build further on HydroNET, our real-time water & climate advisory system used by 200+ organizations and 8000+ water professionals in many different countries.

Our long-term vision

Our vision is to turn the legacy of research and innovation projects into commercial successes and generate more funding for operations of services, follow-up research and further development. Our aim is to innovate and create climate adaptation services with impact, not only during a research project, but surely after that project. HydroLogic has proven that we can upscale such services, involving consortium partners, end users and clients, and create trajectories of commercial success.

Do you want to team up with HydroLogic? Contact us!

Arnold Lobbrecht