Methodology

In order to stimulate the possibility of more radical approaches being proposed and “out of box” thinking being used, the challenge description is phrased as an open challenge. Specifically, there will not be a detailed specification of a product or service being sought but instead there will be a description of the challenge needing to be addressed and the desired outcome.

An open competition will be run to find solutions to the challenge of Supporting Independent Living for the Elderly through Robotics. The challenge in the call for tender is specified to fit the scope of an R&D service, with at least 50% of the contract value relating to services.

All tenders will be evaluated using the same criteria regardless of the geographical location of company, company size or governance structure. Furthermore, the tenders that offer the best solution at an appropriate risk and cost level will be favoured.

The three “phases” of Solution design, Prototype development and Pre-Commercial small-scale development and field test (Figure 1) fall within the scope of the SILVER PCP call.

 

Phase 1: Solution design

This phase is a feasibility study of the selected technologies and proposals, which aims to verity the technical, economic and organizational feasibility of each company’s offer. The expected output from participating companies is a report describing the results of the feasibility study and the conclusions for the start of the development activities in Phase 2. The expectation is that this phase will last for 6 months.

The budget for the R&D contracts in this phase is 350,000 Euros. This represents 25% of the total budget for the PCP call. From this sum approximately eight contracts will be awarded.

 Phase 2: Prototype development

The purpose of this phase is to take the most promising ideas that have been shown to be feasible in Phase 1 and develop them into well-defined prototypes. The selection process for Phase 2 is based on the Phase 1 report and an application process, which will outline the company’s plans for Phase 2.

Selected companies will each develop a prototype based on the results of their feasibility study. The aim is to verify to what extent the prototype’s main features meet the functional and performance requirements set in the challenge.

Participating companies are expected to deliver a prototype specification and lab demonstration, as well as a plan for original development of a limited volume of first solutions and field-testing, and an updated cost/benefits evaluation including a preliminary business plan.

It is expected that the combined budget for this phase will be 720,000 Euros. This is 40% of the total budget for the PCP R&D contracts. A maximum of four projects will be selected for Phase 2 and this phase is expected to take up to one year.

Phase 3: Pre-Commercial small scale product/service development

This phase aims to verify and compare the full feature set and performance of different solutions in real-life operational conditions of the targeted public service. Expected output from participating companies includes firstly field testing, secondly field test specification, thirdly specification of the final solution and other related technical documentation, and finally an updated cost/benefit evaluation.

Testing is undertaken at five sites by the procurers. All solutions in Phase 3 are tested in all sites to ensure that a comparison can be made of performance both across sites and across solutions.

It is expected that the combined budget for this phase will be 1,080,00 Euros. This is 35% of the total budget for the PCP Research and Development contracts.

Phase 3 is expected to take a year with no more than three solutions progressing to this phase depending on their results from Phase 2.

At the conclusion of the Research and Development pilots the IPR and any prototypes will remain the property of the companies involved.

Phase 4:  Commercialisation Diffusion of product/service 

The SILVER project is focussed on developing a pre-commercial procurement process. Phase 4 deals with the commercialisation of the product or service and therefore falls out of scope of the SILVER project. At this phase it remains for the public body to decide whether to do a commercial procurement, and for companies to commercialise their innovations.