The first six months of work for the I3-INSHAPE project are behind us. Co-funded by the I3-programme of the EU, it aims to enhance the European digital economy by transforming the ClusSport Partnership recognised by the EU into a European competence centre for SME sports and vitality initiatives, accelerating interregional innovation investments and creating the I3-INSHAPE Network of Innovation and Investment Hubs. Every interested SME can benefit from this project, and partners made significant progress since the start of the project in September 2023 to permit its local and international accessibility. 

We at Cluster Sports & Technology are happy to be the lead partner of this project, which aims to become the cornerstone of innovation support for SMEs in the domain of sports and vitality in Europe. We believe in open data-driven innovation and I3-INSHAPE gives us the chance to join forces with other innovation hubs with their unique regional excellence in the pursuit of a common mission – helping companies bring innovative products and solutions to the market and contribute to healthier and more active Europe. 

Why is I3-INSHAPE so important?

The initial meeting of the project was organised in September 2023 in Eindhoven, marking the beginning of a three-year journey. I3-INSHAPE aims to accelerate SMEs’ market entry and establish the Innovation & Investment Hub for companies, institutions, and government bodies to promote healthier lifestyles and economic growth in participating regions, fostering economic growth. This goal underlines the importance of such a project, which is a self-sustainable international hub to expand the market presence of SMEs and facilitate commercialisation, attract investments, digitalize services and products, access financing and drive economic development for sport sector in the participating regions.

In 2023, partners and SMEs have started mapping the excellence and expertise of the regions, appointed IBS managers to support the companies, and identified the major needs of the SMEs towards sports innovation.

December 2023 meeting in Barcelona: supporting scaling up and growth of SMEs

A pivotal moment in the project’s early life occurred during the meeting in Barcelona, in December 2023 – organised by Indescat and Acciò. The conference, held within the broader framework of the I3-INSHAPE project, sought to accelerate investment in SMEs while providing valuable insights into international scalability and legal considerations, to support the growth and sustainability of businesses within the sports sector.

Building bridges by sharing data during the meeting in Valencia in February 2024 

Support through data, tailored to the specific needs of SMEs, is one of the cornerstones of the three-year (2023-2026) I3-INSHAPE project. This ambitious operation is one of the main activities of the project which specifically aims to build the I3-INSHAPE Data Portal and Services, as a future service for SMEs. The project’s latest meeting in Valencia, hosted by  Universidad Europea and 4iVLCESPORT, with the collaboration of Metric Salad and Blautic, marked the start of a significant step forward for the project. This specific data-oriented activity focuses on strengthening the digital infrastructure and facilitating data exchange across regions, ultimately empowering SMEs in the sports and vitality sectors along their innovation journey.  

Its goal is to build the I3-INSHAPE Data Portal and Services. This platform will serve as a central hub, fostering collaboration and data usage between flagship SMEs (already on board in the project), co-developer companies, and a second stream of additional SMEs from the participating EU regions. This will ultimately contribute to the growth and competitiveness of SMEs within the EU, facilitating the commercialization of services and attracting investments.  

In Valencia, project partners gained valuable insights crucial for supporting the specific needs of each SME and propelling them towards international success.

Looking Ahead to the International Seminar Day on Comersilizing Sport Innovations in Lahti, Finland

On April 9, the I3-INSHAPE project partner Ladec will host experts, financiers, and inventors who will assemble to delve deeply into the present and potential applications of sports technology, examine global initiatives fostering the expansion of the sports tech industry in Europe, and listen to knowledgeable presentations shedding light on the newest developments. SMEs will get matchmaking sessions with potential investors and other SMEs to further enhancing their opportunities for growth and expansion in the EU market. Learn more here

The I3-INSHAPE project is a commitment to driving positive change in the Sports & Vitality domain. Stay up-to-date: follow I3-INSHAPE on LinkedIn and Twitter and ask for information from the leaders of Cluster Sport & Technology to join this project!