Innovation and SMEs Expert Group

The role of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), innovators and entrepreneurs is vital to the health of any business sector because it shows that the sector has a diverse eco-system with great potential for growth.

In the EU, it is recognised that SME development means greater potential for job growth, innovation and entrepreneurship than business sectors that are dominated by large companies. This also attracts support and investment from the private sector and venture capital because it is a sign of the great potential of a sector.

That is why CIE has been widely supportive of SMEs within our organisation and in our promotional work for the cycling industry sector since the day we were founded.

Currently around two-thirds of CIE members are from the SME sector and they provide a huge amount to our association, visible in all activities and working in all our Expert Groups and our EU cofunded projects for the cargo bike and connected bike sectors. In our membership we are also proud to have organisations like E-Novia in Italy and the Mountain Bike Centre for Scotland which provide innovation support to SMEs.

In governance terms we decided at our foundation that at least one seat on our Board is reserved for SMEs and in fact we have more than this on the Board, plus SMEs provide the Chair or Vice Chair in half of our existing expert groups.

To recognise the importance of this sector we have carried out a number of initiatives focussed on innovation and entrepreneurship within cycling. Our Smart Pedal Pitch innovation challenge in 2019 saw over 40 innovative companies compete for cash prizes and a guaranteed six months pilot development in partnership with Smart City Dublin. Our State of the Art Report in the Intelligent Transport and Connected bike sector has already collected 95 (and counting) examples of innovations in the digital sector, which will be expanded into a new ITS and digital cycling services directory in the coming months. In the cargo bike and cycle logistics sector we are working with the European Cycle Logistics Federation (an association of SMEs) to provide their European secretariat.

Our objectives for SMEs and innovators in cycling is that they should be part of cycling’s thriving business sector in their own right, but collectively they should also benefit from access to national and international resources for SME development such as the business support funds available from the EU and better access to private investors. The EU is strengthening its commitment to the new Enterprise Europe Network to help businesses innovate and grow on an international scale. It is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). From 2021 a lot of new innovation funding will also be released into Horizon Europe, the world’s biggest open research programme.

For this reason we have opened an active dialogue with the EU’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium enterprises (EASME) and we are constantly promoting opportunities for European SMEs through our social media channels such as LinkedIn. As CIE develops we will find more ways to work with our members to attract EU funding to the cycling sector.

Later in 2020 we will launch our next Expert Group for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and SMEs which will improve further the collaboration and coordination between our members and further build on this exciting work area.

To find out more about how CIE can support your company please don’t hesitate to get in touch via info(at)cyclingindustries.com.

More information about the Innovation and SMEs Expert Group coming soon.

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