We talked to Eric Dargent, the CEO of REFARMERS, the project partner responsible for the implementation of the demonstration site in Lyon during the international conference “The Role of Decentralised Biowaste Management in a Circular Economy” explains the role of SMEs in such European projects and the mutual benefits such projects can bring, to both SMEs and innovation in Europe.
DECISIVE is a project that looks at innovations in decentralised biowaste management as something that could help communities and cities optimise their biowaste management and make the best of such waste. This is why the project also includes several SMEs who serve as drivers in innovation, whether as equipment producers or final users responsible for the demonstration of innovation. However, SMEs often have to be very careful when it comes to innovations and feasibility, because risk assessment plays a key role in their businesses, especially when assessing innovation. This is why we talked to Eric, as we were curious why did they embark on this innovative journey and what do they expect from the project.
Eric’s reflection on the project confirmed the previously mentioned risks: “The project is quite ambitious with rather high objectives – trying to design something innovative and not being sure about the financial return at this particular point”, however he added the valuable support EU is putting into innovation, “so for SME it’s something that can be done only with a European support through backing and funding from the community within an EU project”. His explanation and the reason for this is quite simple, as the risk in that case is carried by the community and not by the company itself. As a CEO of an SMEs that stepped up as front runner in terms of decentralised biowaste management, he added that looking into something so new and with so much uncertainty is not easy when assessing the financial viability. “It’s not a risk my company could have taken because we are looking at something so new with a lot uncertainties”, he concluded.
This is why the project and the European funding allow such SMEs to benefit from the increasing European know-how through knowledge transfer and implementing the latest discoveries and scientific outputs. The demonstration site in Lyon, under the charge of REFARMERS will this year see major advancements as many solutions developed by the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Fundacio ENT, IRSTEA, Technical University of Hamburg and the equipment provided by ITS Energy .