In January 2018 the European Commission launched the project ESMERA (European SMEs Robotics Applications), a starting block for European SMEs designing and developing robotic solutions. To unlock the innovation potential of these SMEs, ESMERA promotes applied robotics technology developed for industrial challenges set by key European companies. Thereby the SMEs get a chance to realise new technologies that address real life problems and thus already have a market. ESMERA offers direct financial support to the solution-providing SMEs, through a cascade funding mechanism. On top, the core partners of ESMERA will provide the beneficiaries with an environment for developing, evaluating, testing and demonstrating novel robotic technologies, alongside with nontechnical mentoring and support.
ESMERA offers eight industrial challenges addressing real-life problems in four challenge areas: Energy, Manufacturing, Construction and Agri-food. Under these areas, multiple sectors such as Gas & Oil, Nuclear, Assembly, Processing, Agriculture, Food Processing, Buildings and Infrastructure will be considered. The focus will be on applications that cannot be served by existing robotics solutions and thus are not provided by integrators or technology providers at the moment. The challenges will be selected to be open to innovation, meaning that they will allow multiple approaches to be used by the SMEs who will be free to explore new directions in developing robotics technologies.