Industrial Research Infrastructures: the role of the regions to support industry access
The workshop “Industrial Research infrastructures: the role of regions to support industry access” brought together 5 excellent speakers, 4 coming from different technology infrastructures and one coordinating the European Pilot Production Network and an audience of around 50 participants coming mostly from regional authorities from all over Europe.
The speaker’s presentations highlighted examples of Industrial Research Infrastructures open to regional and cross-regional stakeholders:
o Co-Pilot project developed an open access infrastructure for SMEs interested in the production of high quality (multi-)functional nanocomposites on a pilot scale. The pilot facilities managed to attract follow up funding for two application domains: sustainable buildings and safety (around 5 million euro) and chemical recycling (0.5 million euro); communication campaign- the Nanoparticle Kitcken.
o BioBase Europe Pilot Plant – Europe-wide network of existing open access pilot and multipurpose demo-infrastructures for the bio-economy -nice example of open and accessible infrastructure for SMEs; around 40-50 projects/year are from the private side;
- Demand for better infrastructures is high and still increasing.
- SMEs don’t want to go to big companies if they are not sure about their IPR;
- Voucher schemes are preferred by SMEs because they provide a low threshold to access technology infrastructures and to test their technology at a smaller scale;
o ProM Facility -an infrastructure open to collaborations and designed to research, produce and experiment innovative products, combining traditional mechanics with the most modern sensors and sophisticated virtual prototyping systems and electronic control techniques. It follows the Vanguard Initiative’s model of interregional collaboration along industrial value chains, which is based on Smart Specialisation;
o CIRA - ICING Wind Tunnels – experimental facilities that support aerospace industry; testing for industry at international level; standards and norms can lead to setting the priorities;
o EPPN- European Pilot Production Network offers access to SMEs to publicly funded pilot facilities in all regions in Europe; 142 registered pilot production facilities on the webpage;
Take away message
A strong industry is of key importance for Europe’s economic prosperity and competitiveness. The innovation cycle, from idea creation to demonstrations, pilots, and practical development requires expertise and infrastructures support. The current European landscape of industrial infrastructures is opaque and somehow incoherent, characterised by a mix of local, regional, national and European level private, semi-public or public installations and offerings. Access to technology infrastructures would allow a company to grow and create value with a low capital need.