The STEPS Business Support Programme successfully moves forward and shows first results. SMEs selected in March for the programme have received support from knowledge institutions and already progressed their TRL levels. Three SMEs are now ready to progress to the final stage and four further SMEs are already in the final stage to start testing under ‘real-life’-conditions, with partly cross-border testing involved. Meanwhile, 25 new innovative SMEs applied for the Business Support Programme and are now being assessed for enrollment.
In STEPS, business support and knowledge partners from Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom have joined forces to strengthen the competitiveness of innovative energy storage (e-storage) providers in North-West Europe (NWE). They will do so by using a user-centric, demand-driven approach to bring products closer to the market through tailored testing. Specifically, STEPS will advise e-storage SMEs on entering new markets in NWE, engage with potential end-users, and increase the awareness of solution providers. STEPS will also connect end-users with providers of new e-storage solutions via a business support programme to increase their technological readiness level (TRL) through real-life testing.
In March, the first 20 SMEs started the STEPS journey to optimise future energy storage solutions. The initial step included support from leading knowledge institutions in the energy storage field that successfully increased the TRL of innovations. This enabled 3 SMEs to move forward and soon start real-life testing of their technology.
Real-life testing is relevant to the participating SMEs to finetune and validate their product, to ensure compatibility in real life at end-users, and to demonstrate the value of their product. This will increase confidence in technology and provide evidence for their value proposition when entering the market. The testing will take place in all regions where testbeds are located; the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Ireland and Germany. Our testing even includes a collaboration between two supported SMEs, Zebra (NL) and Locquet (BE). These two SMEs support each other with testing at Terranova Solar in Belgium. Currently, the implementation of the storage solutions at the testbeds is being further prepared so that the SMEs can start testing their technologies after this summer.
The STEPS project does not stop here. In June the second call for applications was opened to aid another 20 SMEs with the Business Support Programme. The second call for applications showed great interest from SMEs and attracted 25 applicants from DE, BE, CH, UK, IE, and NL that want to advance their innovative energy storage solutions. Currently, the applications are being assessed. We look forward to announcing the winning SMEs soon and to start working with them on accelerating NWE competitiveness and the sustainable energy transition at large.