Advised by the Enterprise Europe Network, Greek environmental technology SME Draxis led an EU-funded study into a high-tech irrigation management system that could revolutionise the way farmers worldwide are charged for water.
In its quest for research partners the 12-employee firm often enlists the Enterprise Europe Network, whose nearly 600 member organisations in more than 50 countries help SMEs tap into EU funding.
Network experts at Greece's National Documentation Centre in Athens regularly help Draxis find research, technology and business partners by putting requests into the Network's database and then identifying the best matches. They also invite the SME to business matchmaking events and give advice on research topics and market opportunities.
A few years ago when Draxis was seeking partners for research into an eco-friendly water-friendly irrigation system, the Network linked the company with three promising partners who joined the consortium in the nick of time.
The application was successful, enabling Draxis to lead a 10-country study into a new water-irrigation system with €2 million in funding from the Eco-innovation strand of the EU's FP7 research funding programme. The project used wireless technology developed by Turkish SME Teknoset to record the amount of water consumed by each user.
"We integrated conventional irrigation methods into the automation," says Teknoset CEO Cengiz Bayazit, whose company was first contacted by the Network's Istanbul branch at Sabanci University after winning a national award in innovation and technology.
"We scheduled a meeting with the company and explained in detail the aim and the potential of the Network," explains senior expert Can Kartoglu. "At that stage they were looking to tap into EU funding and introduce their product for wireless irrigation into foreign markets." Besides offering innovation services, the Network advised Teknoset on access to finance and international property rights, invited it to several business matchmaking events and created a profile for the Network's powerful database. When they came across the request from Draxis, they immediately flagged it to Teknoset and put the companies in touch with each other for the smart-irrigation project.
Today, the companies are still working with each other - and with the Network -- to seek commercial partners for their innovation.
"Thanks to the targeted matchmaking services of the Network, we will be able to deliver value-added services to European farmers," says Draxis Environmental Technologies project manager Machi Simeonidou.