I-Form is part of a European project consortium helping SMEs transition to a new wave of sustainable growth
I-Form, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing along with UCD, has launched a new European project, which will help Europe’s small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they transition to more sustainable manufacturing practices.
The project, entitled, ‘the Sustainable Transition to the Agile and Green Enterprise’ (STAGE), is led by iED, the Institute of Entrepreneurship Development in Greece and is funded by the European Commission. The STAGE consortium will create an ecosystem with a focus on transforming industrial enterprises to new practices and help green enterprises.
The new initiative sees 14 different European organisations come together from a wide range of technical areas, including: manufacturing, process engineering, business modelling, finance, and sustainability strategy. The STAGE project aims to unlock new opportunities for SMEs to shape a new wave of sustainable growth across Europe. One of the STAGE focus areas, is to support SMEs to address the requirements of the European Union’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which will come into law in January 2023. This Directive will significantly enhance the level of transparency related to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. While the Directive is initially targeted at larger companies, SMEs will be required to determine product and process ‘footprint’ sustainability data, for feedback into the larger CSRD’s compliant companies. The SMEs may also be required to submit product and / or process sustainability data, along with tendering documents etc., as companies seek to reduce the carbon and other emissions, from their supply chains.
The STAGE project will support SMEs to become more sustainable as follows:
- Provide training programs which are designed to achieve enhanced awareness of the importance of sustainability for SMEs. There will be a particular focus on the impact of CSRD, along with how to meet the requirements of this Directive.
- Provide more specialist training to assist SMEs to evaluate the current development of their sustainability activities, as well as to identify the gaps.
- In conjunction with Sustainability Advisors, to provide practical implementation training, in areas such as the quantification of the usage of water, electricity and materials, along with associated emission etc. The focus for SMEs will be on process or product line assessments, for which they need to meet the specific CSRD reporting criteria for their end users.
- Offer financial incentives, through a voucher program, to enable SMEs to access tailored advisory services and financial support for implementing their sustainability plans.
- For selected SMEs, to work with them to make them investment-ready, so that those with the highest potential can become European industrial economy leaders.
Prof Denis Dowling, director of I-Form said the STAGE project can create a vital new pathway for many European SMEs. He added: ‘‘In their efforts to transition to more sustainable practices, many SMEs will be asking themselves how can we harness this business opportunity, or where do we start from, or how can we be ready to embrace these new technologies? This is where the STAGE project will help.’’
Who can benefit from STAGE?
Industrial SMEs in Europe are welcome to register with any of the STAGE partners and be the first to benefit from the offerings of the initiative. Furthermore, public and private advisors and consultants working in the sustainability field are encouraged to join the STAGE network.
I-Form is the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing. Its mission is to shape the future of manufacturing through high-impact research into the application of digital technologies to materials processing. I-Form works in close collaboration with industry partners to ensure that is research is relevant, applicable, and impactful, delivering a step-change in competitiveness for Irish manufacturing.
The STAGE ecosystem was launched under the European Commission’s Horizon programme. It includes 14 Europe organisations involved in the programme, which spans 12 countries: Institute of Entrepreneurship Development (Greece), GND Advisory & Technology (Lithuania), Innovation Network of Advanced Materials (Germany), SICINDUSTRIA (Italy), SINTEF Manufacturing (Norway), Global Factor International Consulting (Spain), Lithuanian Innovation Centre (Lithuania), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University College Dublin (Ireland), Bulgarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Bulgaria), Warsaw University of Technology (Poland), Corner Case Technologies (Lithuania), Slovak University of Technology (Slovakia), and HSSMI (United Kingdom).
To learn more about STAGE and its progress visit: stagepartners.eu