Key Enabling Technologies driving SME innovation in Europe

What opportunities are there to turn Key Enabling Technologies (KETs)into business opportunities for SMEs across Europe?

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Key Enabling Technologies driving SME innovation in Europe

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This week’s Business Planet is from the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava, where were are looking at one of the drivers of innovation and competitiveness in Europe, called ‘Key Enabling Technologies’ (KETs), including nanotechnologies, nanoelectronics and advanced materials.

Ivan works for a Slovak cyber security company, and these technologies are very important for him.

“Absolutely,” he told Euronews. “Cyber security is a hot topic, and not only in Slovakia. We are looking for technologies that help develop our products to a higher level of security.”

Explained: Key Enabling Technologies for SMEs

  • Key Enabling Technologies (KETs)are a group of six technologies (microelectronics, nanoelectronics, nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology, advanced materials, photonics, and advanced manufacturing technologies) which are key drivers for the development of innovative products, processes and services and thus for growth, jobs and societal benefits.
  • KETs are important for the EU economy: products highly dependent on KETs represent 19 percent of total EU production and enable 3.3 million jobs (or 11 percent of all EU employment depending on manufacturing). Source: EC
  • KETs play an important role in Slovakia’s economy. Slovakia is among the top ten leading EU countries in terms of employment enabled through micro-/nanoelectronics, nanotechnology and advanced materials. Source: EC
  • Slovakia is (together with Germany and Ireland) in the top three of EU member states that lead the ranking in terms of KET specialisation.
  • Slovakia heads the EU ranking of country significance for micro-/nanoelectronics, implying that especially this technology is very important for the overall industrial activities taking place in Slovakia. Source: EC
  • An important trend is the increasing merging of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with KETs: the combination of digital and key enabling technologies has enormous transformative potential and gives rise to a broad range of emerging applications.

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Understanding Key Enabling Technologies (KETs)

Our next stop was Slovakia’s second city, Kosice, where a unique technology was born. At 0.03 mm in diameter, the small magnetic sensors we saw are the world’s smallest.

They are indestructible and can resist extreme temperatures between minus 273 and 600 degrees Celsius. They can be used in almost all sectors, such as construction, transport, IT, and even medicine, where this technology could bring new solutions.

“One of the problems that can’t be solved by current technology is sensing temperature and internal pressure in human crane,” Rastislav Varga, the founder of RVmagnetics, told Euronews. “We can do it by placing micro wires on the top of implants and sensing it using a phone endoscope.”

It took 20 years for Rastislav to develop this technology and bring it to market. The biggest challenge; It was to find investors to launch the SME. But not necessarily to convince them. Indeed, this product has a very high added value. A convincing argument.

“From one gram of iron – the price is less then 16 cents – we are able to produce 100,000 sensors, in less than 10 minutes,” added Varga.

There is a real mix between these key enabling technologies and information communication technologies.

We started an internal research project for developing unbreakable and unrepeatable codes that we plan to use for new products and new business opportunities,” Ivan told Euronews.

And that’s a real trend in Bratislava. The growth of connected objects will also depend on the development of KET.

There are dozens of centres set up by the European Commission, to help you and your entrepreneurs access these key enabling technologies.