A vivid example of a company with persistent patience before achieving success in participating in EU innovation programmes is Regio Ltd, the leading Estonian geoinformation systems provider. Regio has participated in a number of proposals as partner, both for FP5 and FP6, but also for eContent programme. The performance was poor in the beginning because a newcomer the company had difficulties in positioning itself into winning consortia and the technological solutions offered within the projects were not sufficiently innovative. But with the growth and maturity of the company the success rate has soared, topping with astounding 75% in FP6. The missing 25% from complete success is separated by the project, which is currently placed in the reserve list for IST call 5. We tried to find out what is behind such success.
Regio Ltd was established back in 1990 as geospacial information provider. The main business line at that time was cartography. Complete shift to digital technologies occurred in 1994, which in fact established Regio as an IT company rather than a mapping company. The shift to digital format was widely supported also by exponential growth of Internet and web-based products, where electronic maps constitute an important functional layer.
In 2000 Regio developers elaborated a first Mobile Positioning System in the world, testing it together with Ericsson Eesti AS and Rescue Services. Since then, MPS system has been one of the main products that have driven company’s growth. Today, Regio is one of the main MPS vendors to Ericsson, taking care for the operability of their middleware in Ericsson’s product range. Strategic partnership with Ericsson has lead Regio’s expansion to Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Romania, Slovakia.
With this, the original mapping company has actually developed into telecom value added service provider. International expansion has coupled with success in EU funding programs, where good credentials, partnership with Ericsson, participation in evaluation of proposals etc have helped the company to become a valuable partner in high quality EU consortia. Today, Regio participates or is about to start with the following IST projects: MOTIVE, QVIZ, WISECOM.
Regio has clearly managed to capitalize on its proprietary MPS technology, which has proven its value adding features in Ericsson’s network. Experience in promoting its innovative technology on international scales, has attracted interest towards the company also from major FP6 players, which have found Regio as a good partner and niche technology provider, which adds value to their projects. It is paradoxical, but up to now, Regio has not proposed any project into FP itself, success has come via participation in project consortia as a partner. This demonstrates clearly that starting with its own project is not the best solution since this requires a lot of efforts and bears large risk of failure. As an alternative, it might be worthwhile to focus on creating international visibility and positioning ones technology into mainstream innovations.