A Platform for the Acceleration of go-to market in the ICT industry
The main goal of the Accelerate project is the development of several services based on a technological innovation and also on new software technologies that will enable massive adoption of acceleration know-how in the European technological industry.
The project in its main phase will enable a knowledge transfer on a massive scale, by using innovative software technologies and supporting ICT players in their acceleration and go to market process. The process of validated learning will also be supported, in order to reach a higher and systematic approach for ICT projects in their acceleration phase. This will allow companies to bring their products to market faster and in a more successful manner.
The project aims to create a platform that will bring together several services and instruments that the companies usually rely on in their go-to-market process. The companies use services offered by other organizations (Acceleration Service Providers). The platform will gather services such as awareness creation services, trainings, seminars, online courses, coaching and mentoring services, software tools that support specific parts of the acceleration process, services that provide access to data needed to speed up go-to-market, services to look for partners, project management tools (Agile, Scrum) etc.
As far as the Romanian pilot goes, it will address the needs of local the local market. Thus it will bring to its stakeholders a solution that is tailored to their needs and to specific of the local business. The experience harnessed from the European project will be used as well as the experience and expertise gained through the implementation of the Romanian pilot will be used in the European project.
Actual situation (The question, the need)
With less than 20% percent of a middle class population, Romania has to take measures to encourage, help, tutor and mentor the emerging businesses and to keep a positive trend for the small businesses and enterprises.
At this point the Romanian market provides several sites that promise startups acceleration. There are also many incubators that promise the acceleration of different kind of companies and offer expert advice and training, according to the company’s profile.
The sustainability of the business initiated within these incubators is underlined by worldwide statistics that show that 75 % of incubated companies continued to operate three years after they went out of business incubator. For the Romanian market, the statistics are not that clear because this is a new market for Romania. Also, there have been promoted several programs that support the strategy and development of business incubators, approved by Government Decision no. 290/2006. Multiannual national program was launched for the creation and development of business incubators in Romania 2002-2013 in the United Nations Development Program.
How can business start-ups, incubate, survive and develop outside the incubator while going to market with targeted needed services?
An integrated environment, which can provide the necessary tools for a business to accelerate its go to market process, proves to be obvious. A software platform where knowledge and know-how assimilation will be shared, transferred and assimilated at an accelerated pace through targeted high availability services is what SIVECO and BEIA will provide for the Accelerate project
Platform specifications (The answer)
The web based “Accelerate platform” will be accessed via internet and will have to host the tools and virtual environments needed for the go-to-market accelerated process. The platform will be flexible enough to address the long working hours behind the sales, marketing, training, conferencing, product development activities that represent the usual go-to-market process. This will be achieved by developing a flexible loose coupled, n-tier architecture, easy to scale, capable to provide software as service. This type of architectural approach makes possible the addition of new software modules and services, without affecting the platform core functionalities.
The software architecture will be backed-up by a high-availability hardware architecture that will be able to respond to the needs of the platform, being connected to the internet with a strong bandwidth.
Both hardware and software will address the performance and security challenges specific that will result from the final analysis of the user requirements, functional and non-functional requirements.
The platform development will be preceded by an analysis process that will reveal the user needs that have to be implemented in the platform. Also non-functional requirements will be revealed at this stage.
The requirements will be gathered using interview techniques involving the stakeholders of the project. Thus each software service will be developed having the user needs in mind, implementing, where is needed, AGILE and SCRUM enabled software services, in a manner that will help the stakeholder to address the go-to-market process in an innovative and efficient way.
The next step will be to identify available open-source software components that may address some of the platform’s functionalities and the means to integrate into the platform. That been taken care of, the hardware platform analysis will start. At the end of this process the hardware architecture will be established.
One thing that will be kept in mind will be the scalability, both hardware and software. As such the platform architecture will be a cloud based one, due to cloud’s easy to scale hardware capabilities.
Some of the functionalities that have been already foreseen, are as follows:
– Easy access to Concurrent engineering tools, based on the parallelization of tasks: in product development, in design engineering, in manufacturing engineering, to reduce the elapsed time required to bring a new product to the market.
– Easy access to the knowledge transfer in Innovation through a pilot training action at National and European level.
– Easy Identification of European financing opportunities, both on a public and private level(technology promotion, business financing, credit support)
– Facilitation of cross-disciplinary “brainstorming” workshops and innovation methodologies
– Interconnection with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
– Interconnection with databases which contain legal information from different authorities;
– Compatibility with several platforms and operating systems;
– Online distribution techniques for social, mobile and email platforms;
These specifications of realization of the Platform would optimize the chance for innovative SMEs to create targeted innovative solutions, with the right partners, and with the maximum potential for valorization and commercialization of their products across Europe and beyond. The “supply – push” of the SMEs and their partners would be matched with the “demand – pull” of public and business sector needs across the European spectrum.
The results of the project could offer many opportunities to companies and users as well, by creating new ways to identify the competition and to go in a faster way to the market.
The project will bring new opportunities also for students with innovative ideas but without financial possibilities to bring them to market. The existence of the Accelerate platform will allow them to upload and publish these ideas, in order to draw attention to possible investors. These could either buy these ideas and develop them, or offer students the necessary finance for research on their own, with a percentage as charge for the promotion process.
Students that would publish their ideas in the Platform could also be identified by interested Universities, having the chance to participate in several competitions. This will increase the chance that the students can actually bring these ideas to the market. The research institutes could co-opt these students that would bring new ideas and would have the possibility to startup.
The main use case will be: startups and Romanian SME’s that have research and innovation activities and want to promote (an example would be “BEIA Cercetare’’), Universities that want to accelerate some spinoffs, incubators and accelerators (it already exists one in Bucharest, they are interested in promoting this software platform in Europe), Romanian and foreign investors that look for Romanian startups to invest in, other possible beneficiaries (government agencies that would introduce this platform at national level for financial support).
For large companies from the industry field the focus will be on the acceleration of the industrialization of solutions developed in any entity so that it can be rapidly applied (and at an acceptable cost) to other entities of the company in Europe (shorter go-to-market service). Achieving this, necessitates investigating new practices through several case studies and dedicated experiments.
Within corporate environments, the “Accelerate platform” also allows the acquisition of knowledge, more experience and know-how in the deployment of innovation process based on social software.
Within the different applications the “Accelerate platform” could demonstrate how knowledge institutions, while taking into account the boundary conditions in which they function, can improve their social and economic impact, in terms of education, research and collaboration with industry. The ‘’Accelerate platform’’ of the project will contribute to the SME Services, Systems and Software Creation and will provide technologies and tools in the Engineering Technology category of the ITEA roadmap
The ‘’Accelerate platform’’ could help SMEs on adequate research facilities, Universities with adequate evaluation facilities, in particularly in sectors as eLearning, eHealth and mobile services, where a large user base is essential for the establishment of relevant interaction methods and technologies.
Romanian partners contribution
BEIA will contribute with use cases and pilots of the acceleration platform and will exploit the results of the project to the Romanian ICT industry through various channels – participation at the “International Fair of Inventions, Scientific Research and New Technologies” and “Telecommunication Day” event, Bucharest, Research papers published at different conferences organized by Universities, Workshops and Conferences where we disseminate the project activities.
Apart the platform, SIVECO will also contribute with software components that will implement product road mapping in an Agile environment using Scrum methodology. Moreover, the entire development process will use Agile and Scrum project management methodologies.
The project could dispose of a cloud infrastructure as a basis for the central platform where the data will be aggregated and processed. There must be developed an optimal scalable solution that will integrate several fields, tools and services, so we must take into account all the requirements and limitations and adapt our solution to different companies or end users. Accelerate will adapt to all environmental changes, storing data from different sources and making it accessible for further processing.
The platform will also retrieve and display other information, such as the financial state of the organization processes, legal information from different authorities, proposals aggregation, sales opportunities (applications, fairs, auctions, conferences etc.), and financing opportunities.
The project’s platform aims to integrate several tools and systems and automate them. This requires a wide system, issue that can be solved by means of a cloud environment that will allow data acquisition and storage. Architectures and standards for abstraction layers will isolate the implementation of service logic from new ways to implement new interaction paradigms.
The platform will allow the exploit of huge quantities of both structured and unstructured data, from multiple data sources for search applications, and then present them in an intuitive search interface. The platform will use semantic technologies to reconcile formats, structures and terminologies, and identify embedded meanings and relationships. All information sources will be unified in a robust modular index that will ensure continuous access and optimal use of server resources through distribution and data redundancy. The information sources will be accessed through means of XML connectors that will use the source’s native protocol to connect to its information source and index it.
Market deployment opportunities
Within the ”Accelerate platform”, the services will be available as a SaaS (Software as a Service ) solution to accessing a map of topics, designed for co-working environments, business centers and business acceleration organizations
The commercialization period of “Accelerate platform’’ is considered feasible taking in consideration to the business plan and the provisional pricing.
For the first version of the service, which will be available as a SaaS solution, we expect in 2017 contracts totaling 8,500 Eur, in 2018 contracts totaling 55,000 Eur . The second version of the platform, should be launched in 2018 which will allow clients to access a great variety of applications. We expect the followings turnover, , in 2019 contracts totaling 250,000 Eur and for year 2020 contracts totaling 335,000 Eur
Commercialization of the services of the “Accelerate platform’’ will require the design of a configuration engine scalable to a large number of concurrent configuration and applications requests This “easy configurable feature”, will be possible due to the.
The platform gives SMEs within the European ecosystem the right kind of support when it is needed – e.g. finance advice, facilitation for collaborating partners, best practice exchange, expert advice on regulatory, legal or business model aspects. In this way, sustainability is built into the innovation model. In addition, the market platform optimizes their chance of creating targeted solutions for identified social and business needs, with the right partners, and with the maximum potential for valorization and commercialization
We would reach the following market sectors with the aim to conduct representative in each category:
- Private Sector ( SME companies)
- Public Sector (Government Agencies & Policy makers, Administration)
- Knowledge institutions (Higher Education and Research Partners)
- Networks and facilitators (Representative, Support & Lobby Groups, cluster organizations)
- Financing bodies (Funding Sources (private and public, banks)
- Services (including Legal & Intellectual Property companies, consultants)
- Incubators, Science Parks