As highlighted, within Work Packages 2, 3 & 4, the WATSON project aimed to develop a framework methodology for studying the impact of R&D tax credits and incentives on SME-led innovation in Europe. Under Work Package 5, Exodus have worked with the researchers and led on developing a user-friendly ICT platform into which to implement the results and data obtained from their studies. The main users of the WATSON ICT platform are intended to be policy makers, governing bodies, representative organisations, private investors, SMEs, and academic researchers.
Development of the WATSON ICT Platform:
Exodus examined the user requirements for the ICT platform, gathering the needs from the WATSON consortium partners with respect to five dimensions:
- Data: Which data, and which type of data, should the tool be able to process? How should WATSON relate to other tools and data sources? What are the privacy concerns involved?
- Existing solutions: Which are the existing solutions and how do they serve the needs of target users? Where are the bottlenecks in existing solutions?
- User needs & functionality: How will the user interact with the tool and what are the
requirements regarding capabilities?
- Technical issues: What should be the architecture of such a tool?
- Standardisation & GDPR: What are the standardisation activities planned and how will WATSON comply with GDPR?
The design of the Platform was continuously updated through interaction with the other Work Packages. The first design of the WATSON ICT Platform was developed and recorded in the document D5.2 Initial Design of WATSON platform
This document then served as a guidance and framework throughout the WATSON project lifetime for further development and progressive iterations of the platform and its technical implementation.
Validation of the WATSON ICT Platform:
By the end of the WATSON project lifetime, the final iteration of the ICT platform produced by Exodus is a working demonstrator of the ICT Platform. A validation process was undertaken on this final version (with contributions both from users within the WATSON consortium and from stakeholders from the project’s own advisory Stakeholder Panel) to evaluate the results and potential future viability. The validation process and results are outlined in the document D5.5 Validation Report
An original scientific methodology typical for the development of user questionnaires in the field of IS was used, with DeLone & McLean’s IS Success Model as the baseline. This feedback will enable analysis and the definition of best practice examples in using such systems and foster future development of similar systems.
Users found very useful the supportive material provided alongside the platform such as manuals and in system tips/notifications, which were characterised as very important to understand how the platform works. Suggestions were made to further extended the user guide with the theories behind the tools and/or more system tips.
There is a lot of potential in improving and adding new services and functionality. The respondents also indicated that there is a lot of potential for adding more data to the system, possibly a direction worth investigating would be adding to the platform secondary data (i.e. collected by professional data collection sources such as Eurostat or even private collections) as primary data collection requires a lot of effort. Possibly, it would be interesting to offer two separate tools, one for Researchers and another for Public Authorities and Private investors (a less complicated version).
Overall, feedback indicates that as a proof of concept the WATSON ICT platform prototype was successful and performed well. The testers would recommend it to other potential users. There is a lot of interest in the platform and the users indicate they would like to see further developments.