Foresight studies show that the massive integration of advanced manufacturing will displace in a few years many of the current traditional manufacturing processes. In particular, energy and resource-efficient and low carbon technologies and the circular economy will be key drivers of innovation in SMEs. To remain competitive, manufacturing SMEs will increasingly need to rely on advanced manufacturing technologies for clean production. These technologies enable the development of new production processes, but also improve the manufacturing of existing products by reducing production costs, the reliance on raw materials and the consumption of energy, while diminishing the adverse impacts on the environment by reducing the generation of waste and pollution.
Currently, only one third of manufacturing companies in the EU has used advanced manufacturing technologies so far and plans to use them in the next year[]. The challenge is to provide technology support to SMEs who lack resources and/or competences to integrate innovative advanced manufacturing technologies for clean production.
SMEs' access to technology services and facilities remains difficult in many regions of the EU (a recent inventory shows that two thirds of the technology infrastructures providing services to SMEs in the field of advanced manufacturing are located in only four Member States[[Namely Germany, the UK, France and Spain]]). In this context, the High Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) recommended in its report of June 2015 to ensure pan-European access of manufacturing companies to "premier-class" technology infrastructures in the field of KETs. As a first step, the Commission has published an inventory of existing technology infrastructures in the EU capable of providing SMEs with technology services and facilities in the field of KETs[[http://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/key-enabling-technologies/eu-actions/help-smes-access/index_en.htm]].Scope:
In order to ensure cross-border access of manufacturing SMEs to technology services and/or facilities enabling them to integrate innovative advanced manufacturing technologies for clean production into their production process, the action will consist of all the elements listed below:
The technology infrastructures should have the capacity to deliver services such as prototyping, testing, pilot production, engineering, training as well as expertise and advice (in technology but also on the overall innovation process) in order to assist SMEs to integrate innovative advanced manufacturing technologies for clean production into their production processes. The service provided to the SME should be driven by its business needs and the implementation should be flexible and fast to cope with the pace of innovation and the SME requirements. The consortium will define capacity and quality criteria and the network should be open to all technology infrastructures able to deliver services in compliance with these criteria. Criteria for monitoring the quality and impact of the services provided to the SMEs should also be established.
Proposals should outline how the network will develop a common coherent methodology to support SMEs in integrating innovative advanced manufacturing technologies for clean production into their production process, including how to reach out to SMEs across Europe.
Proposers are encouraged to link to existing or emerging regional and national networks in the field of advanced manufacturing for clean production, in particular in the context of smart specialisation.
The action is expected to include financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in part K of the General Annexes. The third parties are expected to be SMEs willing to integrate cutting-edge advanced manufacturing technologies into their production process in an innovative way which requires the purchase of a technology service and/or access to specific technology facilities. The consortium will define the criteria for selecting the proposals submitted by the SMEs (such as expected substantial improvement of the environmental performance, innovativeness, expected significant competitive advantage) as well as the criteria for identifying the technology infrastructures capable of providing the necessary services to the SMEs. The consortium will also define the process to select the best offer from the technology infrastructures within the network to provide the required services at the best value for money for each proposal submitted by SMEs. Grants awarded to third parties shall be provided as a lump sum not exceeding EUR 60,000 and should not cover the full cost of the service provided to the SMEs.
Proposals should cover advanced manufacturing technologies for clean production from a circular economy perspective. This can include advanced manufacturing technologies allowing reduced energy, materials and water consumption, reduced waste generation and emissions, the use and re-use of recovered and recycled materials, biomass and/or other renewable inputs, the making of modular products and easier disassembly and separation, as well as process control technologies.
Proposers are encouraged to link with ongoing activities in relevant Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) such as the Sustainable Process Industry (SPIRE)[[www.spire2030.eu]] and the Factories of the Future (FoF)[[www.effra.eu]] and their stakeholders.
Proposers are encouraged to liaise with the Enterprise Europe Network, and cluster organisations, in particular for dissemination activities and identification of the. manufacturing SMEs having a big potential and willingness to adopt innovative advanced manufacturing solutions for clean production.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 4.9 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact: