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FP7

ECAMM Résumé de rapport

Project ID: 290455
Financé au titre de: FP7-NMP
Pays: Belgium

Final Report Summary - ECAMM (European structured research area for CAtalytic and Magnetic nanoMaterials)

Executive Summary:
eCAMM project is based on a joint proposal made by two Durable Integrated Structures (DIS), which were created as the result of two FP6 Networks of Excellence (NoE) operating in the NMP Programme:
- ERIC (European Research Institute of Catalysis) (www.eric-aisbl.com), DIS of NoE IDECAT (Integrated Design of Catalytic Nanomaterials for a Sustainable Production)
- EIMM (European Institute of Molecular Magnetism) (www.eimm.eu), DIS of NoE MAGMANet (Molecular Approach to Nanomagnets and Multifunctional Materials)
eCAMM project has the final objective of creating and reinforcing the conditions for a self-sustainability and active lasting role within ERA (European Research Area) of the two DISs partners of the project, through common actions towards an European structured research area for catalytic and magnetic nanomaterials (to share knowledge and expertise, structure, equipment and other resources) and other mechanisms, in particular oriented to actions for the preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry and other initiatives for and in collaboration with companies, including from other industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, etc. which could derive from the synergic sharing of knowledge and expertise between the partners of the two DISs.
The objective of the CSA is an ensemble of coherent actions to prepare activities, to be realized outside the CSA, allowing an increased financial viability of ERIC/EIMM DISs, and an improved coordination in research and innovation. The focus of this CSA is on activities which will enable the development of academy-industry relations and give visibility to eCAMM and the associated ERIC/EIMM DISs as the key players in the specific domain (catalysis and magnetic nanomaterials) with regards to public-private and academy-industry initiatives.
The initial strategy begun with the identification of knowledge, competence, & products (KCPs) already available within ERIC/EIMM. The first set of KCPs was based on the Research Roadmaps (RRMs) as already designed by both DISs. Then, the project established mechanisms to prepare S&T transfer of these KCPs to companies which could have used them like that or tailored to their needs and their manufacturing processes as documented in the RRM, in order to stimulate innovation for industries (IfI). This plan was not completely functional due to the deepest recession in the European economy since the 1930s, with real GDP shrunk by some 4% in 2009, which has caused a sharp contraction on the industries’ investment in innovation. Following this economic downturn, these activities were shifted towards the medium term whilst other actions were put in place.
i. enhancement of the visibility of the DISs (international, and to companies);
ii. strengthen the interest of the members in realizing R&D projects involving the DISs;
iii. promoting actions to open new research field;
iv. organisation of events for related communities;
v. support the SMEs with IPR issues;
vi. strengthen the role of DISs in regional activities in favour of companies, with a broader spectrum of expertise.
After the completion of the eCAMM project, both DISs have reached excellent results in terms of Profitability, Solvency and a general Equity Flag and, thus, the project Milestones, which are all related to the LFV evaluations, have been met.

Project Context and Objectives:
The financial viability of both DISs is one of the key issue of this project, it will be improved through a long term collaboration with companies conducted outside the CSA. The objective of the CSA is an ensemble of coherent actions to prepare activities, to be realized outside the CSA, allowing an in- creased financial viability of ERIC/EIMM DISs, and an improved coordination in research and innovation. The focus of this CSA is on activities which will enable the development of academy-industry relations and give visibility to eCAMM and the associated ERIC/EIMM DISs as the key players in the specific domain (catalysis and magnetic nanomaterials) with regards to public-private and academy- industry initiatives.
The strategy starts with the identification of knowledge, competence, products (KCPs) already avail- able within ERIC/EIMM. The first set of KCPs will be based on the Research Roadmaps (RRMs) as al- ready designed by both DISs. Then, the CSA will establish mechanisms to prepare S&T transfer of these KCPs to companies who can use them as is, and will tailor and further elaborate these KCPs, according to company needs and their manufacturing processes as documented in the RRM, in order to stimulate innovation for industries (IfI).
In this respect, eCAMM plans to progressively expand the area of interest from companies closely related to catalysis and magnetic nanomaterials (the two specific fields of competences of ERIC and EIMM) to companies in the field of environmental protection, nanomedicine and health care, ICT and sensors and nanomaterials risk for which the integration of the complementary competences at the interface between catalysis and magnetic nanomaterials could boost the innovation.
The two DISs address different industrial sectors: (i) mainly large energy and chemical companies for catalysis (apart few SMEs), and (ii) mainly SMEs and electronic companies for diagnostic and spintronics, respectively, for nanomagnetism. The proposed integrated structure (eCAMM) can thus cover more systematically the industrial field, and the synergy of competences, as well as the better critical mass, enables a stronger positioning inside ERA and positive outlooks for financial viability.
Both networks stem from, and maintain strong links with, the Italian Consortium INSTM, which is a true example of a living Virtual Institute, although on a national scale. This consortium will be the working model and the logistic support for this strategic alliance.
The objective of the CSA is to prepare an increased the FV of ERIC and EIMM by supporting their strategy of extending industrial participation in their activities, also by expanding application sectors through their integration of competences, and by strengthening their impact and visibility.
The two DISs will keep their own individual personality, but share knowledge and expertise, structure, equipment and other resources to improve their capacity of collaboration with companies. In a long-term vision the integration of competences will allow to open to new industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, to ICT, environment protection, etc.
eCAMM project has the final objective of creating and reinforcing the conditions for a self-sustainability and active lasting role within ERA (European Research Area) of the two DISs partners of the project, through common actions towards an European structured research area for catalytic and magnetic nanomaterials (to share knowledge and expertise, structure, equipment and other resources) and other mechanisms, in particular oriented to actions for the preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry and other initiatives for and in collaboration with companies, including from other industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, etc. which could derive from the synergic sharing of knowledge and expertise between the partners of the two DISs.
Functional to the active lasting role within ERA are also the objectives of educational and training activities for young researchers, promotion of visibility by developing initiatives in favour of the broader communities of reference for the two DISs, and an active politic for incorporating new partners in order to progressively expand the actual core partners, while other objectives such as to realize efficient synergies to reduce the management costs of the DISs are finalized to be more cost-effective for a structuring effect inside ERA. The expected final result of eCAMM is to realize the financial sustainability of the two DISs (ERIC/EIMM), in order to allow their structuring and lasting action inside the European Research Area, in their respective areas of influence: catalysis and molecular magnets. This structuring action will result in an improved critical mass and improved effectiveness in innovation in these areas which play an important role in key manufacturing industrial sectors, from chemistry to electronics.
In addition, by fostering the mutual integration and interaction in these sectors it is expected to provide new competences (deriving from the integrated collaboration) to new industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, to ICT, environment protection, and nanomaterials’ risk. We believe that a structured and fully operated system of virtual thematic field institutes can be an useful tool for supporting the development not only of the ERA but also to support the activity of the SME in the race for keeping and enhancing competitiveness and developing new products and technologies
In order to improve their sustainability and strengthen their activities, impact and visibility, the two DISs have decided to make a strategic alliance.
Must be underlined that the financial viability of both DISs is the key issue of this project, it will be improved through a long term collaboration with companies conducted outside the CSA. The objective of the CSA is an ensemble of coherent actions to prepare activities, to be realized outside the CSA, allowing an increased financial viability of ERIC/EIMM DISs, and an improved coordination in research and innovation. The focus of this CSA is on activities which will enable the development of academy-industry relations and give visibility to eCAMM and the associated ERIC/EIMM DISs as the key players in the specific domain (catalysis and magnetic nanomaterials) with regards to public-private and academy-industry initiatives.
The activities to be carried out by both DISs, foreseen in the proposal and implemented in the first half of the project, did not reach the expected impact.
The initial strategy begun with the identification of knowledge, competence, & products (KCPs) already available within ERIC/EIMM. The first set of KCPs was based on the Research Roadmaps (RRMs) as already designed by both DISs. Then, the project established mechanisms to prepare S&T transfer of these KCPs to companies which could have used them like that or tailored to their needs and their manufacturing processes as documented in the RRM, in order to stimulate innovation for industries (IfI). This plan was not completely functional due to the deepest recession in the European economy since the 1930s, with real GDP shrunk by some 4% in 2009, which has caused a sharp contraction on the industries’ investment in innovation.
During the 1st year, according to the DoW and the very limited PM and budget available, the activities were focused mainly on WP1 (Preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry). The objective of this WP was to prepare a set of coherent activities for collaboration with industry that will be implemented and realized outside the CSA, allowing an increased financial viability of ERIC/EIMM DISs, and an improved coordination in research and innovation. Over 30 companies (both SMEs and large companies) have been contacted and/or visited to present the competences available between the DISs partners and to establish relations, contracts and common projects. Some contracts with companies resulted from this activity, and other are in progress, although as result of the general economic crisis there is a general limited tendency by the companies to start contracts and other activities.
Part of the activities were also related to WP2 (Expansion RRM, Increase partnership and develop training activities with/for companies), with the preparation of the first documents for a common research roadmaps between the two DISs, a limited expansion in the number of DISs partners and the realization of some training/educational activities with/for companies.
The 2nd year of the project, was focused to improve and increase the objectives and the activities carried out during the first year. The achievement of the Deliverables at month 24 have shown that the activities of the project are going on. In fact, several other companies were contacted and visited, using different approaches, a few industrial contracts were signed for the period 2013-2014, some educational/training activities paying a special attention to companies were realized.
According to DoW, a critical review of the first two years activity was performed. Although the eCAMM performances, in terms of self-sustainability and active lasting role within ERA were beyond the initial expectations for the 2nd year, it was evidenced that derive mainly from activities out of those related to the core mechanisms reported in the DoW to reach these conditions: (i) preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry, (ii) creation of a common RRM and expansion to other industrial sectors, (iii) services for companies, from training activities to legal and IPR services and use of equipment, and (iv) creation of a Business Club.
Although these mechanisms may have a long term impact, in the immediate they are not effective, both for external conditions (such as general economic crisis, etc.) and internal conditions (they are not request from contacted companies, neither identified as the aim of participation to DISs from the partners). This requires thus to revise these mechanisms, to better identify the future type of activities performed by DISs to be attractive for an active life of partners in them, and to rethink also the politic of partnership expansion.
Some of these aspects are identified in the project assessment and in part already started during 2nd year, but will require a further in depth analysis for the better identification of the new actions and strategies necessary on the basis of a discussion involving all the partners. It is also necessary to tailor future initiatives by considering the evolving structure of ERA and industrial context as well as to take into account other relevant aspects such as the new EC Horizon 2020 programme and other international initiatives.
The overall collaboration with industries has been very fruitful and many of the contacts that were created with the CSA, will be the baseline of the future activities and collaborations.
The foreseen activities at the beginning of the project, although consistent with those performed during the 3rd period, were proven to be underperforming in the short-term, however, we feel that mediated with the new activities planned, they can be interesting, under the profitability point of view, in the medium term.
The baseline for the implementation of the DISs activities will be based on the following actions:
a) enhancement of the visibility of the DISs (international, and to companies),
b) strengthen the interest of the members in realizing R&D projects involving the DISs,
c) promoting actions to open new research field,
d) organisation of events for related communities,
e) support the SMEs with IPR issues,
f) strengthen the role of DISs in regional activities in favour of companies, with a broader spectrum of expertise.

In the short-term, the activities already planned or running and which guarantee the sustainability and innovation effect for companies are the following:
I. main role of ERIC in the realization and dissemination (also international) of the European Roadmap of Catalysis
II. main role of EIMM in the networking activity on the new area of molecular spintronics through a COST action
III. organisation of large events in 2016 (Spintronic congress in Bologna) and in 2017 (EUROPACAT, ECMM)
IV. preparation and management of projects, involving various companies together with the DISs or DISs members
V. training activities toward a national confederation of SMEs (CNA) on IPR issues
VI. industrial contracts
VII. participation with public bodies to strategic planning in recovery areas,
VIII. continuation of the activity to promote close-to-market material and technology of partners associates directly to selected companies (activity started during the fourth year with encouraging results) by means of specialists hired by the DISs.
The actual view of the Business opportunity is slightly changed, as the visits to the companies outlined the need for different expertise: the economic crises caused a shrinking of the industrial resources and this made most of the industries that we contacted, not willing to be directly involved in the Business Club nor to be engaged in big Innovation Plans, whilst the most was interested in Transfer of Knowledge (ToK) and Technology Transfer (TT).
Experts have been hired since the first month for collecting contracts and promoting IfI and S&T Transfer, but the results were very poor and not encouraging enough to invest heavily the EC contribution on that.
Both DISs can offer to SMEs and large companies, in relevant industrial areas, in particular environmental protection, nanomedicine and health care, ICT and sensors, and nanomaterials risk, as well as their core competences in molecular and nano/magnets and catalysis, a cost-effective organization with a light and flexible structure for:
- promoting and managing projects requiring multi and cross-disciplinary competences,
- consulting and intelligence reporting on emerging scientific and market areas,
- ToK and TT with effective use of knowledge and equipment,
- IP, patent and legal support in these fields,
- academy-industry and industry-industry interaction and road mapping,
- organisation of conferences/events/schools
- lobbying for strengthening these research areas,
- attracting and orienting talented students and young researchers.
In the frame of the ToK, with the goal of increasing the transfer of knowledge from academia to companies and, as a consequence, the financial viability of both DISs, companies were approached on specific cases, when DISs researchers have developed new material or technologies that they believe to be innovative for the industrial and commercial world.
The approach of the ToK is completely antipodal, in comparison with the one tried in the first period. In the first period, eCAMM tried to propose a collaboration on innovation and multiple research tasks to be highlighted by the company or offered a Europe-wide network to help the company on research or innovation related matters, thus trying to get information from the company itself.
In this case, we shall go directly to visit a selected company having in our hands a specific and advanced idea that should be of interest fort that specific company.
This activity will be possible by first operating a selection of the best “ideas” than doing a selection of companies that are operating in that specific fields and that have similar products in their commercial line or, even if they do not have that specific product, but are close to the field.
In order be cost-effective we explored the feasibility of the action on a local basis.
A professional was hired, fully dedicated to this objective, and a specific questionnaire was created for collecting the more advanced idea in the direction of possible industrialization, among the researcher of the INSTM institution.

Project Results:
The objective of the CSA is to prepare an increased the FV of ERIC and EIMM by supporting their strategy of extending industrial participation in their activities, also by expanding application sectors through their integration of competences, and by strengthening their impact and visibility.
The two DISs will keep their own individual personality, but share knowledge and expertise, structure, equipment and other resources to improve their capacity of collaboration with companies. In a long-term vision the integration of competences will allow to open to new industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, to ICT, environment protection, etc.
eCAMM project has the final objective of creating and reinforcing the conditions for a self-sustainability and active lasting role within ERA (European Research Area) of the two DISs partners of the project, through common actions towards an European structured research area for catalytic and magnetic nanomaterials (to share knowledge and expertise, structure, equipment and other resources) and other mechanisms, in particular oriented to actions for the preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry and other initiatives for and in collaboration with companies, including from other industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, etc. which could derive from the synergic sharing of knowledge and expertise between the partners of the two DISs.
Functional to the active lasting role within ERA are also the objectives of educational and training activities for young researchers, promotion of visibility by developing initiatives in favour of the broader communities of reference for the two DISs, and an active politic for incorporating new partners in order to progressively expand the actual core partners, while other objectives such as to realize efficient synergies to reduce the management costs of the DISs are finalized to be more cost-effective for a structuring effect inside ERA. The expected final result of eCAMM is to realize the financial sustainability of the two DISs (ERIC/EIMM), in order to allow their structuring and lasting action inside the European Research Area, in their respective areas of influence: catalysis and molecular magnets. This structuring action will result in an improved critical mass and improved effectiveness in innovation in these areas which play an important role in key manufacturing industrial sectors, from chemistry to electronics.
In addition, by fostering the mutual integration and interaction in these sectors it is expected to provide new competences (deriving from the integrated collaboration) to new industrial sectors such as materials for nanomedicine, health care and diagnostics, to ICT, environment protection, and nanomaterials’ risk. We believe that a structured and fully operated system of virtual thematic field institutes can be an useful tool for supporting the development not only of the ERA but also to support the activity of the SME in the race for keeping and enhancing competitiveness and developing new products and technologies
In order to improve their sustainability and strengthen their activities, impact and visibility, the two DISs have decided to make a strategic alliance.
Must be underlined that the financial viability of both DISs is the key issue of this project, it will be improved through a long term collaboration with companies conducted outside the CSA. The objective of the CSA is an ensemble of coherent actions to prepare activities, to be realized outside the CSA, allowing an increased financial viability of ERIC/EIMM DISs, and an improved coordination in research and innovation. The focus of this CSA is on activities which will enable the development of academy-industry relations and give visibility to eCAMM and the associated ERIC/EIMM DISs as the key players in the specific domain (catalysis and magnetic nanomaterials) with regards to public-private and academy-industry initiatives.
The activities to be carried out by both DISs, foreseen in the proposal and implemented in the first half of the project, did not reach the expected impact.
The initial strategy begun with the identification of knowledge, competence, & products (KCPs) already available within ERIC/EIMM. The first set of KCPs was based on the Research Roadmaps (RRMs) as already designed by both DISs. Then, the project established mechanisms to prepare S&T transfer of these KCPs to companies which could have used them like that or tailored to their needs and their manufacturing processes as documented in the RRM, in order to stimulate innovation for industries (IfI). This plan was not completely functional due to the deepest recession in the European economy since the 1930s, with real GDP shrunk by some 4% in 2009, which has caused a sharp contraction on the industries’ investment in innovation.
During the 1st year, according to the DoW and the very limited PM and budget available, the activities were focused mainly on WP1 (Preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry). The objective of this WP was to prepare a set of coherent activities for collaboration with industry that will be implemented and realized outside the CSA, allowing an increased financial viability of ERIC/EIMM DISs, and an improved coordination in research and innovation. Over 30 companies (both SMEs and large companies) have been contacted and/or visited to present the competences available between the DISs partners and to establish relations, contracts and common projects. Some contracts with companies resulted from this activity, and other are in progress, although as result of the general economic crisis there is a general limited tendency by the companies to start contracts and other activities.
Part of the activities were also related to WP2 (Expansion RRM, Increase partnership and develop training activities with/for companies), with the preparation of the first documents for a common research roadmaps between the two DISs, a limited expansion in the number of DISs partners and the realization of some training/educational activities with/for companies.
The 2nd year of the project, was focused to improve and increase the objectives and the activities carried out during the first year. The achievement of the Deliverables at month 24 have shown that the activities of the project are going on. In fact, several other companies were contacted and visited, using different approaches, a few industrial contracts were signed for the period 2013-2014, some educational/training activities paying a special attention to companies were realized.
According to DoW, a critical review of the first two years activity was performed. Although the eCAMM performances, in terms of self-sustainability and active lasting role within ERA were beyond the initial expectations for the 2nd year, it was evidenced that derive mainly from activities out of those related to the core mechanisms reported in the DoW to reach these conditions: (i) preparation of S&T Transfer and Innovation for Industry, (ii) creation of a common RRM and expansion to other industrial sectors, (iii) services for companies, from training activities to legal and IPR services and use of equipment, and (iv) creation of a Business Club.
Although these mechanisms may have a long term impact, in the immediate they are not effective, both for external conditions (such as general economic crisis, etc.) and internal conditions (they are not request from contacted companies, neither identified as the aim of participation to DISs from the partners). This requires thus to revise these mechanisms, to better identify the future type of activities performed by DISs to be attractive for an active life of partners in them, and to rethink also the politic of partnership expansion.
Some of these aspects are identified in the project assessment and in part already started during 2nd year, but will require a further in depth analysis for the better identification of the new actions and strategies necessary on the basis of a discussion involving all the partners. It is also necessary to tailor future initiatives by considering the evolving structure of ERA and industrial context as well as to take into account other relevant aspects such as the new EC Horizon 2020 programme and other international initiatives.
The overall collaboration with industries has been very fruitful and many of the contacts that were created with the CSA, will be the baseline of the future activities and collaborations.
The foreseen activities at the beginning of the project, although consistent with those performed during the 3rd period, were proven to be underperforming in the short-term, however, we feel that mediated with the new activities planned, they can be interesting, under the profitability point of view, in the medium term.
The baseline for the implementation of the DISs activities will be based on the following actions:
a) enhancement of the visibility of the DISs (international, and to companies),
b) strengthen the interest of the members in realizing R&D projects involving the DISs,
c) promoting actions to open new research field,
d) organisation of events for related communities,
e) support the SMEs with IPR issues,
f) strengthen the role of DISs in regional activities in favour of companies, with a broader spectrum of expertise.

In the short-term, the activities already planned or running and which guarantee the sustainability and innovation effect for companies are the following:
I. main role of ERIC in the realization and dissemination (also international) of the European Roadmap of Catalysis
II. main role of EIMM in the networking activity on the new area of molecular spintronics through a COST action
III. organisation of large events in 2016 (Spintronic congress in Bologna) and in 2017 (EUROPACAT, ECMM)
IV. preparation and management of projects, involving various companies together with the DISs or DISs members
V. training activities toward a national confederation of SMEs (CNA) on IPR issues
VI. industrial contracts
VII. participation with public bodies to strategic planning in recovery areas,
VIII. continuation of the activity to promote close-to-market material and technology of partners associates directly to selected companies (activity started during the fourth year with encouraging results) by means of specialists hired by the DISs.
The actual view of the Business opportunity is slightly changed, as the visits to the companies outlined the need for different expertise: the economic crises caused a shrinking of the industrial resources and this made most of the industries that we contacted, not willing to be directly involved in the Business Club nor to be engaged in big Innovation Plans, whilst the most was interested in Transfer of Knowledge (ToK) and Technology Transfer (TT).
Experts have been hired since the first month for collecting contracts and promoting IfI and S&T Transfer, but the results were very poor and not encouraging enough to invest heavily the EC contribution on that.
Both DISs can offer to SMEs and large companies, in relevant industrial areas, in particular environmental protection, nanomedicine and health care, ICT and sensors, and nanomaterials risk, as well as their core competences in molecular and nano/magnets and catalysis, a cost-effective organization with a light and flexible structure for:
- promoting and managing projects requiring multi and cross-disciplinary competences,
- consulting and intelligence reporting on emerging scientific and market areas,
- ToK and TT with effective use of knowledge and equipment,
- IP, patent and legal support in these fields,
- academy-industry and industry-industry interaction and road mapping,
- organisation of conferences/events/schools
- lobbying for strengthening these research areas,
- attracting and orienting talented students and young researchers.
In the frame of the ToK, with the goal of increasing the transfer of knowledge from academia to companies and, as a consequence, the financial viability of both DISs, companies were approached on specific cases, when DISs researchers have developed new material or technologies that they believe to be innovative for the industrial and commercial world.
The approach of the ToK is completely antipodal, in comparison with the one tried in the first period.
In the first period, eCAMM tried to propose a collaboration on innovation and multiple research tasks to be highlighted by the company or offered a Europe-wide network to help the company on research or innovation related matters, thus trying to get information from the company itself.
In this case, we shall go directly to visit a selected company having in our hands a specific and advanced idea that should be of interest fort that specific company.
This activity will be possible by first operating a selection of the best “ideas” than doing a selection of companies that are operating in that specific fields and that have similar products in their commercial line or, even if they do not have that specific product, but are close to the field.
In order be cost-effective we explored the feasibility of the action on a local basis.
A professional was hired, fully dedicated to this objective, and a specific questionnaire was created for collecting the more advanced idea in the direction of possible industrialization, among the researcher of the INSTM institution.
The seven pages questionnaire were written in Italian language, has open and closed questions sections and allow the identification of the material or technology, the specific field of application, the degree of development, starting from the laboratory to the pre-industrialization, the degree of ownership of the idea, report on previous contacts with companies with any, and several other aspects.
The result of the test, were extremely encouraging and the instrument will be used on a larger scale.
ERIC & EIMM must focus on the small innovative companies and existing small businesses that need a new marketing approach, related to new and innovative products, but heretofore could not afford the involvement of big research consultant or, for confidentiality issues, do not want to disclose their future plans.
Interactions with big companies will continue and some collaboration “on the spot” is not inconceivable but, as the policies of multinationals are very well hidden and research is mostly carried out internally, it is quite unlikely that a long-term collaboration could be initiated.
As explained above, the market analysis and the overall situation deriving from the economic cycle, has pushed the DISs to search new approaches for the industrial relationships.
The Business Club, which could have been an excellent instrument in normal times, during this financial crisis, has become a non-performing one.
The general approach that was foreseen in the first Business Plan, exposed in the DoW, described the companies disclosing their needs/problems/technical barriers/knowledge gaps and, thus allowing the researchers to interact with them, solving their issues.
This approach was proven to be very difficult to become effective, and had obtained a reduced rate of success.
Companies can be approached:
• on the creation/collaboration on projects strategically important for them, but always on the first impulse given by the DISs;
• after selecting a certain company for their products/technologies/materials, the DISs propose a certain technological research, capable of industrial application and, potentially, capable of giving to that certain company, a competitive advantage;
• organising schools/seminars/conferences on issues related to their activities.
The lesson learnt is that, anyway, the first input cannot be asked to the companies but must be coming from the DISs.
During the third year was identified a new tool for developing interaction with industries. This tool was used in the 4th year of the project. It will be attempted a new survey among the researcher affiliated to the two DISs for collecting information about the presence of material(s) that can be considered very close to the market having a relatively high TRL. A form was distributed and the collected answers elaborated by a dedicated person to later identify companies that could have a real interest in the material/technology proposed, reversing the common mechanism that is to bring companies to watch the possible novelties at workshop or congresses. In this way it will be the material (researcher/laboratory) to look for the right company by the help of a dedicated (and experienced in the field) person acting as a scout. The proposal were selected and a few of them chosen for the action. Two conference calls were performed with each proposer to better identify the material/technology offered. This was the first part of the action performed. Following this a list of possible companies were chosen on the basis of their products and interest and the list was refined with the researchers. The shortlist obtained by the refinement was used for the choice of the industries to be contacted. After the contact a good feedback was obtained (more than 2 request of meeting from companies for each idea/technology proposed were collected after 10 days of the proposal). From the meeting between companies and DISs’ offers pro-active collaboration should originate and some cases can be forecasted.
1) In case of concrete and immediate interest of the item proposed by the scout a direct contact under the umbrella of the DISs will be organised and in case of a product ready to be introduced in the productive stream of the company the intellectual properties will be sell (with a percentage of revenue for the DIS) or a common activity will be open (Spin-off) to produce and commercialise the new systems.
2) In case of interest of the item proposed by the scout but with the material/technology not yet ready for direct transfer to the company’s production, the DISs will take care to facilitate either a contract from the company to further advance the developing of the items or the help to find public funds for the ToK from academia to company that can be present at regional or national levels. A fee will be recognised to the organisation in case of funding.
3) As above, in case of items that look very promising but that needs of a further developments performed by several teams and different and advanced expertise that cannot be found and funded at regional level, the DISs will try to facilitate the composition of large teams at European level involving their partners, for applying at H2020 calls. This action will be pursued by the laboratory and the company together either applying for European funding resources. If the request will be financed a percentage of revenue will be for the action already performed by the DIS and to support further actions like IPR and completing of the activated IfI. A fee will be recognised to the organisation in case of funding.
4) The same then above but originated by specific topics of calls for which partners of the DISs believe to have developed particularly suited process of materials that address the European requests. A fee will be recognised to the organisation in case of funding.
Both DISs normally offer specialized services to the companies, activating contracts with researchers who have the appropriate skills for their implementation. The initiative described in this section, is a new and experimental activity for DISs, since the process has been developed in the opposite direction: the demand is not by the company, but by the researcher who has developed a new technology or product and want to offer it to the industries. In this case DISs act as a broker between researchers and enterprises: researchers sent to DISs its technological solutions and DISs, through a dedicated professional or directly, contact potentially interested companies.
There are several reasons for which, the implementation of this initiative can create a win-win situation:
− The interest of researchers to leverage their technologies;
− The interest of companies which want to increase their competitive advantage by leveraging on technology innovation;
− And finally, this approach overcomes the existing barriers that do not allow an effective communication between the two parties.
In the general frame of Technology Transfer there are few commonly-known obstacles to be taken into consideration:
− Knowledge of the market and its structure
− knowledge of market needs, specifically and consistently with the proposed solution
− Choice of the selected target (Company)
− Modality to contacting the Company
− Collaboration proposals that are not specific enough
Based on these considerations, this initiative aims to create tangible, concrete and measurable benefits for both ends of the frame, namely:
− Benefits for researchers:
o To increase their knowledge of the market and the real attractiveness of the solution
o To help them identify the right Company target
o To help them creating links with Companies that appear difficult to reach
− Benefits for companies:
o To learn new and interesting technologies to increase their competitive advantage
o To acquire new skills thanks to the potential cooperation with selected researchers
According to these general objectives, the initiative is designed around three key steps:
1. Selection of technological solutions "close" to the market in terms of Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
2. Improvement of the business or R&D proposal
3. Preliminary market analysis related to the technological proposal

The first point refers to the decision to consider only those technology proposals which have a TRL of 4 or higher.
The second point relates to the need to enhance the business proposal in order to meet the potential customer’s expectation in the decision making process.
The third point refers to give the researcher new market information: evidence of interest, adoption of technology, the market “state-of-the-art” and other competing solutions.
The Feasibility Study aimed to make a preliminary check of the possibility of collection of innovative ideas among researchers associated with INSTM; of the possibility of access to INSTM company database and finally, to make a check of the economic sustainability for carrying out the activity (number of days). The mentioned checks were positive.
The Design Phase had the objective of defining stages, activities, timing and quantitative targets and prepare the tools to support operational activities (technological proposal collection form, researcher interview form, companies collection form, etc.).
As regards to the “Collection of Technological Proposals” particular attention was paid to the formulation of the registration form, in order to make them user-friendly, quick-to-fill-in and to make the following data storage as automated and consistent as possible.
The sheet was divided into two parts:
• The first part is filled in with keywords or with flag
• The second part, is optional and allows for free writing
• This form is an Excel spreadsheet and it is connected to a database, in order to make search query and analysis on the stored knowledge.
• The figure “Run Stage”, shows two gates which are linked to two basic needs:
• Exclude proposals with missing requirements
• Cost-effectiveness (Avoiding a detailed analysis of all the collected proposals)
With reference to the “Deep Assessment” an interview was necessary to gather extra important information that was not specified in the questionnaire form.
Execution Phase
The Run (Execution Phase) was carried out with the support of both DISs for the part related to the interface with the researchers and the opening of contacts with current customers. Evaluators with large experience in business or in R&D provided a determinant support to the assessment of the technological proposals from the point of view of the “Innovation Potential “and the “Market Potential”. The board of evaluators was composed by:
• Prof. Francesco Ciardelli (University of Pisa)
• Dott. Fabio Andreola (CEO Baxalta)
• Dr. Gabriele Benedetti (CEO Extrasolution srl)
• Prof. Mauro Pistello (University of Pisa)
It is important to underline once more that this test, has been carried out in Italy, where we had the chance to perform it in a challenging environment but, basically, with very limited costs.
Another positive side-effect is that the geographical vicinity, allowed both the management of ERIC & EIMM, to be on top of the whole process, verifying and assessing each step.
The Evaluation Phase aimed to preside until the conclusion of the engagement, the development of contacts between researchers and companies that have expressed interest in making contact, to avoid interruptions or unpredictable communication problems.
Outside the actions mentioned earlier, other activities were implemented and, although the results in these years and in the last period were not successful in terms of income percentage, their implementation will continue in the future.
In particular, on IPR and the legal/contractual part related to it, our plans foresee a growth in its importance in research activities, both from the previously reported interaction between researchers and companies, and in general for both researcher and companies separately.
It is common to assume that IPR frameworks are important in settling how the results of research collaborations are distributed between the various individual members or categories of members involved in collaborations. But IPRs are far more important than that. It is the IPRs and the conditions regarding their ownership and utilisation that determine the nature, scale and participation in such research. The increasingly important role of IPRs at all stages of the research and innovation process will have a determining effect upon the nature of collaborative research, its focus, and its success. The reason for this is that IPR philosophy is intricately bound up with, and controls, knowledge flow, creation, use and exploitation before, during and after a project.
The importance of formal collaboration agreements is that they force the participants at the outset to identify their own interests, rights and responsibilities, and to recognise those of others within the project, and to codify these within a legally binding document which can be consulted during and after the project's lifetime. An important, if not central part of these agreements deals with the allocation and utilisation of IPRs.
Long-term relationships are frequently built-up between companies and individuals or departments, and these can prove the most successful in generating benefits for all parties. Therefore the intellectual property issues raised by collaborative research should be viewed in a broader context, considering more than just the immediate possibilities of patenting, licensing and contract fees, taken on a project-by-project, one-off basis. IPR and knowledge management involves balancing the advantages and also disadvantages of a variety of exploitation routes.
In this sense we believe that the role of DISs can be relevant as we can both consider/implement and exploit the IPR created by the collaborations that we have created as well as helping SMEs in exploiting their IPR.
In this respect, the newly introduced, so called, “fiscal compact” (or “Patent Box”), allows any company to deduct from the taxable income, all the revenues deriving from immaterial assets and reinvested in the company’s activities.
DISs activities can follow several paths in this area and thus implement several activities:
I. There is a strong need for increased awareness of the importance of IPRs in international collaboration. Personnel involved in collaborative research must be subject to confidentiality agreements for a limited period. Academic institutions often include graduate scientists in research projects. Their status must be made clear, including their rights, if any, to benefit from results and their responsibilities to respect confidentiality where appropriate. Usually, the employment contract of permanently employed staff already contains confidentiality provisions. It is important to check that this is so, and if not, to ensure that a separate confidentiality agreement is entered into. In this respect the legal expertise of both DISs can play a significant role.
II. Collaborators should ensure that relevant IPR rules are consistent with the goals of the collaboration. This will include considerations of the costs and extent of patent coverage in different jurisdictions. As in the USA, the system has undergone considerable changes, which have strengthened the coverage of patents and the rights of patent holders, for example in the fields of biotechnology and software related inventions, European SMEs and researchers need a solid backbone to interact with such a competitive market and DISs can help in this aspect.
III. Depending on the goals of the co-operation, IPR protection should be obtained on research outputs, if it seems desirable to do so, independently of the phase in the life cycle of the project. This applies to fields such as materials technologies, bio-technologies and pharmaceuticals, where the differentiation between basic, generic and applied research has reduced, leading to mixed research structures and models. Also in this respect, the DISs expertise can play a significant role.
The potentiality of IPR scouting, implementation and protection are well outlined in a collaboration with a global IPR company (SISVEL s.p.a.) with subsidiaries in Italy (None Torinese, Milan, and Rome), Germany (Stuttgart), the UK (London), the US (Washington DC metro area), Japan (Tokyo), China (Hong Kong) and Luxembourg (Luxembourg City), where mutual interest was found in the complementarity of their and DISs role.
There were other important venues for finding future collaborations in the IPR area, among those, it has been the workshop organised in Alicante (Spain) by the former OHIM – Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (now called EUIPO European Union Intellectual Property Office) in which companies, Public bodies and Academia were invited and the event was organised by the UK Intellectual Property Office in Belfast (Northern Ireland) in which most of the participants were companies dealing with problematic IPR, both in term of scouting and in term of correct patent/trademark evaluation.
As mentioned earlier in a more general view, the participation to the International Patent Forum 2015, due on the 10-11 March 2015 in London was proven to be essential for future collaboration in the IPR sector.
With Europe introducing the new Unified Patent Court and China making good experiences with its new specialised IP court, keeping an overview of what is going on around the globe has never been more important. In addition, it is key to keep track of the US facing an increasingly activist Supreme Court and Russia facing political backlash from the west. The MIP International Patent Forum 2015 educated the audience about up-to-date global legal developments, patent litigation, licensing, and IP monetisation in global jurisdictions. By discussing the most significant global changes to patent law, the event was a key learning opportunity for IP leaders, enabling delegates to get everything out of their intellectual property and be well prepared and informed about the global landscape of patent law. All delegates were party to important debates about the most significant global developments in the patent system and had the opportunity to interact at a high level and take contacts in the frame of the most advanced audience in the field.
In this venue the first contact with SISVEL founder, Dr. Roberto Dini, was made and the ongoing negotiation looks very promising.
As mentioned earlier, in another non-scientific environment, ERIC was asked to revise all the contractual documents of the European organisation EFCATS.
EFCATS (European Association of Catalysis Societies) is a non-profit organization of 25 National European Catalysis Societies to facilitate, coordinate, and rationalize scientific activities in the field of catalysis on a transnational level. ERIC has been involved as well in the reshaping of the organisation.
Another key topic within the eCAMM project was the enlargement of the partnership of both DISs. In this respect, for both DISs, apart the initial attempt to include as many IDECAT or MAGMANet (Networks of Excellence) members as possible, the pro-active strategy is based not much on expanding expertise, which is important – of course – but is not the first issue, but putting new blood in the associations, including new partners which are willing to be part of the DISs and are willing to interact with the other partners, as well as using the DISs to their full potential in order to reach the final eCAMM objective of self-sustainability and active lasting role within ERA.
The procedure foreseen for the selection of new partners in DISs is quite a long procedure, starting from the initial discussion within the BoD, the analysis of the documentation provided by these applicants, the verification with the General Assembly and the final approval by the General Assembly itself.
The initial objective for the enlargement of the partnership was to include, together with new Institutions, also companies in ERIC and EIMM DISs partnership, but as evidenced in the previous reports the inclusion of companies was not possible to realize both for the absence of interest of most of the companies, being them already participating to other type of associations (like PPP SPIRE) with objectives and functions partially overlapping, and for the limited willingness of actual DISs members to proceed in this direction, going in part against their interest. Therefore, already in the 2nd year deliverable on the enlargement of partnership, it was indicated the need to revise these aspects from a different perspective with respect to the initial plan. The contacted companies were not interested in participating formally to a Business Club (BC), requiring long and complex internal procedures, although several of them confirmed their interest to collaborate with ERIC/EIMM and in common initiatives. Thus exists the interest of companies in collaborating with ERIC/EIMM, but the participation to BC was not considered a functional mechanism to this scope and a primary goal. In other words, the mechanism of establishing and reinforcing relations with companies do not requires necessarily a rigid and formal mechanism as that of BC or formal participation to DISs, which creates many difficulties. This fact can be seen as a partial deviation from the initial objective being the enlargement of partnership with industrial companies one the possible tools for helping the DIS in their self-sustainability but it is only a change of mechanism because the two DISs will continue to promote several kind of interactions with companies.
The idea of the enlargement of capacities to new areas deriving from the overlap between catalysis and nanomagnetic competences was also not effective, because opening to new areas require a capacity of investment in R&D which is not possible within eCAMM, neither around due to the strong cut of financial support to fundamental research in a large part of EU countries. It is thus a longer term process which is not expected to contribute significantly to the financial DISs sustainability (main object of eCAMM), at least in a near future.
It is thus necessary to concentrate activities on those more relevant to this main objective of eCAMM.
Nevertheless there were multiple interactions between the two communities for exploiting the joint competences. A an example we can quote the case of a study commissioned by the ENEA (Italian Institution for Alternative Energies) on the possibility to perform ToK to companies which activities involve catalysis, in the field of the catalysis performed by magnetic materials, with a particular attention to those possessing hyperthermic effects. This study should be the first step of an important action launched by the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities (MISE) for improving the performance of this sector and for promoting energy saving.
Therefore, a different pro-active strategy was indicated (starting from eCAMM 2nd year) for the area of enlargement of the partnership, focused to partners which are interested to insert “new blood” in the partnership, i.e. to use more effectively the possibilities offered by the DISs to realize closer interactions between “academic” or “academic-like” and industrial activities. To note that most of the actual partners of DISs have already STRONG relationships with companies, particularly those in the catalysis area, but based on bilateral interactions. As remarked many time it is thus not a question to intensify these relationships, but to put the relations on different and more long-term bases. The strategy of enlargement of the partnership was thus revised to proceed in this direction, including the possibility to enhance the possibilities (in a longer term strategy) to reinforce the common expertise in nanomaterials and nanotechnology, in order to reinforce the possibility to transfer our knowledge to a higher number of companies, even not directly bound to our scientific areas.
Another objective of eCAMM was to develop training and dedicated educational activities for company researchers or with participation of company and eCAMM young researchers, also involving company experts/managers in young researchers training/education activities. The task has the objective of promoting the involvement of companies in the eCAMM partner educational activities in order to early foster students and young researchers contacts with problems related to innovation and S&T transfer to companies.
As previously remarked, this type of activities, for the limited resources available and limited PMs, have to be made in part in collaboration with companies and/or other Institutions. The goal is also to strengthen relations with companies and increase visibility, and therefore it can be considered as a longer-term investment, which often cannot be related directly to a specific immediate return. Due to the economic crisis, resources on this type of activities were in fact completely cut if not considered strongly necessary for the developing of important objectives of the companies. Nevertheless, training and educational activities have to be considered in a broader and extended view, according to also request by the companies. These activities are for the major part of them, activities which are not technically finalized to specific topic, as can be in lecture at scientific meetings, but have a wider and more general character, and are finalized to promote awareness for company scientists and managers (or PhD students working on industrial projects, as the cited PhD students of SINCHEM - European Doctorate on Sustainable Industrial Chemistry) and rise their attention on the new future trends.
Another key point of the project was the deployment of new Research Roadmaps (RRM) each year.
All RRMs have been fully described in the related deliverable but, in general terms an effective roadmap requires combining bottom- and top-down elements and to integrate the industrial needs with fundamental aspects and more long-term visionary elements. This is the approach used in the roadmaps which started from the identification of the needs to create a sustainable, innovative and competitive development and the role of catalysis and molecular magnetism to realise these challenges.
Catalysis is at the interface of fundamental and applied research, and naturally oriented towards industrial production. Therefore, all aspects of catalyst scale-up and engineering, as well as the relation between catalyst design and reactor/process engineering are very relevant to the catalysis discipline. It should be emphasised that we can only highlight those developments taking place in the open literature, yet it is evident that many academic groups working in catalysis have teamed up with industry in competitive research, re-emphasising the close cooperation between academia and industry in valorising fundamental research efforts into real applications.
Although roadmaps are naturally oriented towards future needs in terms of novel processes, yet it should be realised that catalysis is the key enabling technology of the current chemical industry, that is in the production of all energy vectors and all chemicals. It is thus imperative to continue to support catalysis R&D for current industrial chemical processes to maintain competiveness and innovation in this vital sector of the chemicals manufacturing area.
In the transition to a new economy, as we are likely experiencing already, there are always contrasting idea between those who believe in change and those who don’t. A particular case in point is the role of CO2 in future scenarios – mitigating CO2 will be a key element, yet it can also be considered a raw material in the future. CO2, biomass and renewable energy are thus three interconnected elements to progressively substitute oil (fossil fuels) with a target of a 30% substitution by year 2030. There is no consensus on this issue and various researchers consider this substitution not feasible. Interestingly, at the start of the current economic cycle with oil being dominant – roughly 60 years ago, a similar debate ensued on the substitution of acetylene by olefins as raw materials.
This lesson, even with its intrinsic limitations, teaches us about the difficulties in roadmapping the future.
The present environmental challenges make clear that the current approaches which rely on fossil fuels are not sustainable. Catalysis has a pivotal role in current chemical and energy vectors production. Catalysis is the single most important and pervasive interdisciplinary technology in the chemical industry, and perhaps one of the disciplines having the largest societal impact, although often hidden or understimated. Catalysis, enabling the production of fertilisers, makes it possible to feed a world population of 7 billion humans. Catalysis allows producing fuels from oil in the quality and quantity necessary for the modern use of energy. Catalysis is the key enabler to combine vast use of cars with good air quality. In the production of many healthcare, pharmaceutical, and agrochemical products, catalysis is a core technology, thereby increasing our living standards. Catalysis is a key enabling technology for most of the seven societal challenges in Horizon 2020.

Within the Magnetic materials’ sector, in view of the future use for the strategy of long-term sustainability of the DISs, identifying either common research than expansion and long term activities to be developed and promoted at European level, efforts have been made for opening new sectors with a strong character of possible industrial development involving a joint activity other overlapping communities. The Molecular Spintronic challenge - this new field combines ideas and concepts developed in spintronic with the possibility offered by molecules to perform electronic functions, to form self-organised nanostructures by using physical or chemical approaches and to exhibit quantum effects.
This new field requires the combined competence of 3 research communities: classical spintronics, molecular electronics and molecular magnetism; so far spintronics has been based on conventional materials like inorganic metals and semiconductors. However, with the contemporary evolution of molecular electronics and molecular magnetism, and with the evolution of spintronics towards nanospintronics, the new field namely Molecular Spintronics is emerging. It combines the ideas and concepts developed in spintronics with the unique possibilities offered by the molecular systems to perform electronic functions, to form self-organized nanostructures by using chemical or physical approaches and to exhibit quantum effects at the nanoscale. Its final goals are the fabrication of new and cheaper spintronic devices using molecular materials (organic spintronics) or, in the longer term, one or a few molecules in the race toward miniaturization (single-molecule nanospintronics).
To reach the above described objective, the combination of the three communities (classical spintronics, molecular electronics and molecular magnetic materials) was attempted, contacts were intensified as like as common events were scheduled. The overlapping research of the three communities should bring to an important scientific/technological advance of this field. This action is also stimulated by the urgent economic need in electronics to go beyond complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS) and beyond silicon materials. Future devices for information processing able to increase considerably the public wealth and occupation, strictly require a further material downscaling together with a considerable reduction of power consumption and costs. In this context, spintronics is one of the few areas selected to play a significant role in the post-CMOS electronics, even more when naturally down-scalable materials based on molecules are combined with low energy consumption information processing via spintronic effects. Hence, this is a timely topic, even if very challenging, that addresses real scientific / technological issues in spintronics from a molecular perspective. What it is encouraging from the technical point of view is that the Molecular Material communities already moved in the last few years towards nanostructuration and (self)organization of molecules on conductive, magnetic or semi-conductive surface, that are the key materials needed to build electronic devices.
The overlapping work of the three communities should accelerate the development of several key points, needed for having important advancing steps, like:
- a common understanding between the areas of organic spintronics, single-molecule spintronics and quantum computing based on molecular spin qubits.
- a common scientific and technical knowledge needed for the fabrication of a new generation of spintronic devices based on molecules.
- the fabrication and testing of single-molecule spintronic devices through a coordinated effort involving chemistry (design of the magnetic molecules), engineering (nanofabrication of the devices, positioning of the molecules) and physics (measurements and theoretical modeling).
- the coordination of an experimental and theoretical effort to develop robust molecular spin qubits leading to new spin architectures and to the fabrication of quantum devices.
As a final comment of the project activities we can summarise, in bullet points, the answers which have been prepared for the fourth CSA meeting in Brussels
• The activities within the CSA allow to guarantee the financial viability of DISs at least for the next three years, but with a lighter and different model of DISs structure with respect to the one initially presented in CSA project and with a different type of activities, as those present in CSA project do not allow this objective realized, mainly through different activities outside the CSA;
• Visibility for catalysis/molecular magnets and an active networking role as well as actions of representation catalysis or molecular magnets communities within ERA initiatives are the main activities asked by DISs partners as well as companies;
• There is no interest in the usual role in which DISs act as transfer agent for knowledge/innovation from academy to companies:
• The DISs have thus to restructure actions towards this demand with a different approach as the one described hereinabove which was proven to be very effective. The DIS has difficulties to compete at the local, regional and national levels against competitors;
• There are already many activities in training and meetings at the EU level and a strong involvement in various organisations and stakeholders;
• Future is bright with an increase of revenues and the perspective of a steady incomes for both DISs.

Potential Impact:
The overall result of eCAMM, in addition to the financial viability of both DISs has been a change of approach in their attitude with companies. Both DISs were born as scientific instrument with the aim of tackling the fragmentation of the scientific world, of widening the collaboration which is, still today, mostly bilateral and of creating a critical mass to “make the difference” and thus, giving a leading role to Europe. In this respect, the collaboration with industry was very far away and was never an issue in the Networks of Excellence, from which both DISs have been created. In this sense, the CSA gave the possibility of interacting with companies and to create a virtuous path that can lead to a solid and steady income stream. The actual view of the Business opportunity is slightly changed, as the visits to the companies outlined the need for different expertise: the economic crises caused a shrinking of the industrial resources and this made most of the industries that we contacted, not willing to be directly involved in the Business Club nor to be engaged in big Innovation Plans, whilst the most was interested in Transfer of Knowledge (ToK) and Technology Transfer (TT).
Experts have been hired since the first month for collecting contracts and promoting IfI and S&T Transfer, but the results were very poor and not encouraging enough to invest heavily the EC contribution on that.
Both DISs can offer to SMEs and large companies, in relevant industrial areas, in particular environmental protection, nanomedicine and health care, ICT and sensors, and nanomaterials risk, as well as their core competences in molecular and nano/magnets and catalysis, a cost-effective organization with a light and flexible structure for:
- promoting and managing projects requiring multi and cross-disciplinary competences,
- consulting and intelligence reporting on emerging scientific and market areas,
- ToK and TT with effective use of knowledge and equipment,
- IP, patent and legal support in these fields,
- academy-industry and industry-industry interaction and road mapping,
- organisation of conferences/events/schools
- lobbying for strengthening these research areas,
- attracting and orienting talented students and young researchers.
In the frame of the ToK, with the goal of increasing the transfer of knowledge from academia to companies and, as a consequence, the financial viability of both DISs, companies were approached on specific cases, when DISs researchers have developed new material or technologies that they believe to be innovative for the industrial and commercial world.
The approach of the ToK is completely antipodal, in comparison with the one tried in the first period.
In the first period, eCAMM tried to propose a collaboration on innovation and multiple research tasks to be highlighted by the company or offered a Europe-wide network to help the company on research or innovation related matters, thus trying to get information from the company itself.
In this case, we shall go directly to visit a selected company having in our hands a specific and advanced idea that should be of interest fort that specific company.
This activity will be possible by first operating a selection of the best “ideas” than doing a selection of companies that are operating in that specific fields and that have similar products in their commercial line or, even if they do not have that specific product, but are close to the field.
In order be cost-effective we explored the feasibility of the action on a local basis.
A professional was hired, fully dedicated to this objective, and a specific questionnaire was created for collecting the more advanced idea in the direction of possible industrialization, among the researcher of the INSTM institution.
The seven pages questionnaire were written in Italian language, has open and closed questions sections and allow the identification of the material or technology, the specific field of application, the degree of development, starting from the laboratory to the pre-industrialization, the degree of ownership of the idea, report on previous contacts with companies with any, and several other aspects.
The result of the test, were extremely encouraging and the instrument will be used on a larger scale. The details of the whole operation will be described further down.
The market for the services provided, by both DISs, is mainly centred to innovative SMEs, although some collaboration “on-the-spot” with large enterprises is feasible as well. The core business is the proposition of research results ready to become attractive for industry. The services, which are provided by both DISs, are:
- promoting and managing projects requiring multi and cross-disciplinary competences,
- consulting and intelligence reporting on emerging scientific and market areas,
- ToK and TT with effective use of knowledge and equipment,
- IP, patent and legal support in these fields,
- academy-industry and industry-industry interaction and road mapping,
- organisation of conferences/events/schools
- lobbying for strengthening these research areas,
- attracting and orienting talented students and young researchers.
Their description is not necessary, at this stage, as they have been carried out for most of the lifespan of the project.
On the other hand, at this point, is important to describe the new foreseen approach to companies, which has been briefly outlined in the previous paragraph 2.
The described initiative was intended to:
- Identify innovative technological solutions
- Identify companies interested in such technological solutions
- Promote the transfer of knowledge and the innovation from academia to companies through a selected collaboration between companies and the researchers.
- The main stages of the initiative were:
- Preparing and distributing a questionnaire to gather innovative technological proposals to all researchers and teachers who work in the field of interest of the EIMM and ERIC partners;
- Collection of innovative technological solutions;
- Search for companies potentially interested in these solutions either as customer or partner in a new R&D project (prototyping and scale-up);
ERIC and EIMM offer specialized services to the companies, activating contracts with researchers who have the appropriate skills for their implementation. The action described in this paragraph is a new and experimental activity, developed under the umbrella of eCAMM project, since the process has been deployed in the opposite direction: the demand for a new know-how is not coming from the company, but from the researcher, who has developed a new technology and want to offer it to the industries.
In this case ERIC and EIMM act as broker between researchers and enterprises: researchers of DISs partner send their findings to the headquarter, subsequently, ERIC and EIMM, directly or through hired national experts, contact potentially interested companies.
The reasons to implement this initiative are related to:
- The interest of researchers to leverage their technologies;
- The interest of companies which want to increase their competitive advantage by leveraging on technology innovation;
- And finally, the existing barriers that does not always allow effective communication between the two parties.
The market opportunity for this technology is tremendous and subject to a high growth trend.
The 2014/2015 annual report on European SMEs presents good news: after years of downsizing, European SMEs are expanding and have started hiring again. SMEs accounted for 71.4% of the increase in employment in 2014 in the non-financial business sector, which includes all sectors of the economy except for ‘financial services’, ‘government services’, ‘education’, ‘health’, ‘arts and culture’, ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’.
SMEs are a highly diverse population of enterprises, and are present in every nook and cranny of the economy, with activities ranging from the production of artisan food to the production of high tech space exploration equipment, from retail services to the provision of highly specialised professional services, from focusing primarily on serving domestic customers to focusing mainly on the export markets.
In short, SMEs are ubiquitous, and in 2014 accounted for 99.8% of all enterprises in the non-financial business sector in the EU28. For every km2 of land surface the EU has an average of 5 SMEs. Moreover, in 2014 SMEs employed almost 90 million people - 67% of total employment, and generated 58% of the sector’s value added.
Almost all SMEs (93%) are micro SMEs employing less than 10 people. About three quarters of SMEs are active in the five key sectors: ‘wholesale and retail trade’, ‘manufacturing’, ‘construction’, ‘business services’ and ‘accommodation and food services’.
The tentative green shoots of growth of 2013 gained in strength in 2014. Namely, in 2014 EU28 SME value added grew by 3.3% and employment by 1.2%, while in 2013 value added grew by 1.6% and employment declined by 0.5%.
However, the positive 2014 experience was not shared by all Member States - SMEs in Cyprus, Sweden, Croatia, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic showed a decline in value added, which in the case of Cyprus and Italy was also accompanied by a reduction in employment.
Among the five key sectors, the ‘business services’ sector was at the EU28 level the star performer across all three SME performance indicators (i.e. regarding increase in employment, value added and number of SMEs). Value added in this sector grew by more than 5% in 2014.
The other four key sectors and the ‘other’ sector also recorded good value added growth ranging from 2.7% to 3.4%, but the employment growth performance of these sectors was much weaker, especially in ‘construction’ where employment continued to fall in 2014 (despite an increase of 3.4% in value added) and ‘manufacturing’ where employment grew by only 0.8%. The latest developments in EU28 SME performance reflect improving macro-economic and business conditions.
Not all SMEs are out of the woods, though. In particular, SMEs in construction, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in manufacturing, were hit hard by the economic and financial crisis. Employment in these two sectors in 2014 was still respectively 17% and 11% below 2008 levels, whereas value added in construction remained 18% below its 2008 level and in manufacturing has almost craw led back to where it stood in 2008. In contrast, SMEs in the ‘accommodation and food services’ and the ‘business services’ domains benefitted from robust growth in these sectors.
In this respect, the need for an innovative approach is essential exactly in those sectors which are lurching to push out through the crisis.
In the study “Innovative marketing in SMEs: A theoretical framework” they state that innovation in the context of doing business is a widely used term with many different interpretations. Cumming (1998) cited reports by the Zuckerman Committee in 1968 and Confederation of British Industry/Department of Trade and Industry Innovation Unit in 1996 to illustrate that early definitions of the word “innovation” have developed from its early interpretation as a process or the introduction of change, into its current interpretation which includes terms such as creativity, success, profitably and customer satisfaction. From a small and medium size enterprises perspective, innovation commonly refers to new products or processes that address customer needs more competitively and profitably than existing solutions (O’Regan and Ghobadian, 2005)
Medium-sized SMEs are forecast to do slightly better than small and micro enterprises in both 2015 and 2016 and across all three indicators.
SME growth is also expected to be more balanced in terms of sectorial growth, with all the major SME sectors predicted to take part in the overall upswing of SME activity. However, ‘construction’ and ‘manufacturing’ are forecast to continue to lag behind the other sectors.
For this reason and in these sectors, innovation can be a crucial turning point for the future survival of a SME and this need will become more and more evident. Both DISs offer a huge variety of expertise that can be vital for innovation and, furthermore, the flexible structure makes this intervention very cost-effective and able to be applied, basically, even in the micro-SMEs.
In this context, the unconventional aspect of the SME strives for exceptionality by adapting or eschewing the industry norm in its approach to marketing activities and practices for at least some of its business, product or service (Kleindl et al., 1996; Knight et al., 1995).
Therefore, literature illustrates that SMEs are driven by a need to develop marketing activities and practices that are in some way exceptional. In this context, exceptionality denotes unusual skills and accomplishments; these skills and accomplishments contribute to elements of SME business that they deem to be rare or unique. In this landscape, although applicable only to a limited number of SMEs, ERIC & EIMM enjoy several key competitive advantages over the competition, including:
1. Our solutions are not intrusive, meaning our solutions can seamlessly integrate into any existing platform without the need of changing layouts;
2. Our solutions come from the best researchers in the material’s field and, thus, are the best available for the involved sector;
3. Our technology will be integrated into company’s systems and products only after being assessed by top scientists and if the solution will be found applicable at the company’s products.
DISs management team has extensive experience in technology development, sales, marketing, finance and IPR.
The hired experts have industry specific expertise in innovation systems and advanced material applications.
Our DISs are formed by a team of seasoned and young scientist from virtually every discipline in material’s science sectors.
Both DISs are potentially profitable in year one, after the EC funding period, assuming no problems with research agreements and IPR contracts. Thus, ERIC & EIMM will focus on the small innovative companies and existing small businesses that need a new marketing approach, related to new and innovative products, but heretofore could not afford the involvement of big research consultant or, for confidentiality issues, do not want to disclose their future plans.
Interactions with big companies will continue and some collaboration “on the spot” is not inconceivable but, as the policies of multinationals are very well hidden and research is mostly carried out internally, it is quite unlikely that a long-term collaboration could be initiated in the short-term.
As mentioned earlier, the market analysis and the overall situation deriving from the economic cycle, has pushed the DISs to search new approaches for the industrial relationships.
The Business Club, which could have been an excellent instrument in normal times, during this financial crisis, has become a non-performing one.
The general approach that was foreseen in the first Business Plan, exposed in the DoW, described the companies disclosing their needs/problems/technical barriers/knowledge gaps and, thus allowing the researchers to interact with them, solving their issues.
This approach was proven to be very difficult to become effective, and had obtained a reduced rate of success.
Companies can be approached:
- on the creation/collaboration on projects strategically important for them, but always on the first impulse given by the DISs;
- after selecting a certain company for their products/technologies/materials, the DISs propose a certain technological research, capable of industrial application and, potentially, capable of giving to that certain company, a competitive advantage;
- organising schools/seminars/conferences on issues related to their activities.
The lesson learnt is that, anyway, the first input cannot be asked to the companies but must be coming from the DISs.
In this respect, the results of the action above described are self-explanatory.
All milestones have been reached and surpassed but still the main concern is not related to the number of visits nor to the value of the projects implemented with companies, although those indexes have a meaning in the frame of the EC funded project, where the Commission must evaluate the performances of the project and if the critical path is followed.
In the proceedings of the activities, both DISs cannot count anymore on an external finance, thus all the activities must be i) cost-effective and ii) with a high success ratio.
As previously outlined a the new approach to industry has been tested in the last period and this process is below described in a more detailed way.
Both DISs normally offer specialized services to the companies, activating contracts with researchers who have the appropriate skills for their implementation. The initiative described in this section, is a new and experimental activity for DISs, since the process has been developed in the opposite direction: the demand is not by the company, but by the researcher who has developed a new technology or product and want to offer it to the industries. In this case DISs act as a broker between researchers and enterprises: researchers sent to DISs its technological solutions and DISs, through a dedicated professional or directly, contact potentially interested companies.
There are several reasons for which, the implementation of this initiative can create a win-win situation:
− The interest of researchers to leverage their technologies;
− The interest of companies which want to increase their competitive advantage by leveraging on technology innovation;
− And finally, this approach overcomes the existing barriers that do not allow an effective communication between the two parties.
In the general frame of Technology Transfer there are few commonly-known obstacles to be taken into consideration:
− Knowledge of the market and its structure
− knowledge of market needs, specifically and consistently with the proposed solution
− Choice of the selected target (Company)
− Modality to contacting the Company
− Collaboration proposals that are not specific enough
Based on these considerations, this initiative aims to create tangible, concrete and measurable benefits for both ends of the frame, namely:
− Benefits for researchers:
o To increase their knowledge of the market and the real attractiveness of the solution
o To help them identify the right Company target
o To help them creating links with Companies that appear difficult to reach
− Benefits for companies:
o To learn new and interesting technologies to increase their competitive advantage
o To acquire new skills thanks to the potential cooperation with selected researchers
According to these general objectives, the initiative is designed around three key steps:
1. Selection of technological solutions "close" to the market in terms of Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
2. Improvement of the business or R&D proposal
3. Preliminary market analysis related to the technological proposal
The first point refers to the decision to consider only those technology proposals which have a TRL of 4 or higher.
The second point relates to the need to enhance the business proposal in order to meet the potential customer’s expectation in the decision making process.
The third point refers to give the researcher new market information: evidence of interest, adoption of technology, the market “state-of-the-art” and other competing solutions.
From a methodological point of view, the process steps have been organized according to the logic described in the following paragraphs:
Feasibility Analysis
The Feasibility Study aimed to make a preliminary check of the possibility of collection of innovative ideas among researchers associated with INSTM; of the possibility of access to INSTM company database and finally, to make a check of the economic sustainability for carrying out the activity (number of days). The mentioned checks were positive.
Design Phase
The Design Phase had the objective of defining stages, activities, timing and quantitative targets and prepare the tools to support operational activities (technological proposal collection form, researcher interview form, companies collection form, etc.).
As regards to the “Collection of Technological Proposals” particular attention was paid to the formulation of the registration form, in order to make them user-friendly, quick-to-fill-in and to make the following data storage as automated and consistent as possible.
The sheet was divided into two parts:
− The first part is filled in with keywords or with flag
− The second part, is optional and allows for free writing
This form is an Excel spreadsheet and it is connected to a database, in order to make search query and analysis on the stored knowledge.
The figure “Run Stage”, shows two gates which are linked to two basic needs:
− Exclude proposals with missing requirements
− Cost-effectiveness (Avoiding a detailed analysis of all the collected proposals)
With reference to the “Deep Assessment” an interview was necessary to gather extra important information that was not specified in the questionnaire form.
Execution Phase
The Run (Execution Phase) was carried out with the support of both DISs for the part related to the interface with the researchers and the opening of contacts with current customers. Evaluators with large experience in business or in R&D provided a determinant support to the assessment of the technological proposals from the point of view of the “Innovation Potential “and the “Market Potential”. The board of evaluators was composed by:
• Prof. Francesco Ciardelli (University of Pisa)
• Dott. Fabio Andreola (CEO Baxalta)
• Dr. Gabriele Benedetti (CEO Extrasolution srl)
• Prof. Mauro Pistello (University of Pisa)
It is important to underline once more that this test, has been carried out in Italy, where we had the chance to perform it in a challenging environment but, basically, with very limited costs.
Another positive side-effect is that the geographical vicinity, allowed both the management of ERIC & EIMM, to be on top of the whole process, verifying and assessing each step.
Evaluation Phase
The Evaluation Phase aimed to preside until the conclusion of the engagement, the development of contacts between researchers and companies that have expressed interest in making contact, to avoid interruptions or unpredictable communication problems.
Outside the actions mentioned earlier, other activities were implemented and, although the results in these years and in the last period were not successful in terms of income percentage, their implementation will continue in the future. In particular, on IPR and the legal/contractual part related to it, our plans foresee a growth in its importance in research activities, both from the previously reported interaction between researchers and companies, and in general for both researcher and companies separately. It is common to assume that IPR frameworks are important in settling how the results of research collaborations are distributed between the various individual members or categories of members involved in collaborations. But IPRs are far more important than that. It is the IPRs and the conditions regarding their ownership and utilisation that determine the nature, scale and participation in such research. The increasingly important role of IPRs at all stages of the research and innovation process will have a determining effect upon the nature of collaborative research, its focus, and its success. The reason for this is that IPR philosophy is intricately bound up with, and controls, knowledge flow, creation, use and exploitation before, during and after a project. The importance of formal collaboration agreements is that they force the participants at the outset to identify their own interests, rights and responsibilities, and to recognise those of others within the project, and to codify these within a legally binding document which can be consulted during and after the project's lifetime. An important, if not central part of these agreements deals with the allocation and utilisation of IPRs.In this sense we believe that the role of DISs can be relevant as we can both consider/implement and exploit the IPR created by the collaborations that we have created as well as helping SMEs in exploiting their IPR.
DISs activities can follow several paths in this area and thus implement several activities:
i) There is a strong need for increased awareness of the importance of IPRs in international collaboration. Personnel involved in collaborative research must be subject to confidentiality agreements for a limited period. Academic institutions often include graduate scientists in research projects. Their status must be made clear, including their rights, if any, to benefit from results and their responsibilities to respect confidentiality where appropriate. Usually, the employment contract of permanently employed staff already contains confidentiality provisions. It is important to check that this is so, and if not, to ensure that a separate confidentiality agreement is entered into. In this respect the legal expertise of both DISs can play a significant role.
ii) Collaborators should ensure that relevant IPR rules are consistent with the goals of the collaboration. This will include considerations of the costs and extent of patent coverage in different jurisdictions. As in the USA, the system has undergone considerable changes, which have strengthened the coverage of patents and the rights of patent holders, for example in the fields of biotechnology and software related inventions, European SMEs and researchers need a solid backbone to interact with such a competitive market and DISs can help in this aspect.
iii) Depending on the goals of the co-operation, IPR protection should be obtained on research outputs, if it seems desirable to do so, independently of the phase in the life cycle of the project. This applies to fields such as materials technologies, bio-technologies and pharmaceuticals, where the differentiation between basic, generic and applied research has reduced, leading to mixed research structures and models. Also in this respect, the DISs expertise can play a significant role.
The potentiality of IPR scouting, implementation and protection are well outlined in a collaboration with a global IPR company with subsidiaries in Italy, Germany, the UK, the US, Japan, China and Luxembourg,where mutual interest was found in the complementarity of their and DISs role.
The impact of the CSA has been huge and the whole DISs approach towards their sustainability lies now in the relation with companies under several aspects and not only- and strictly – in the scientific excellence which is, anyway the baseline also for the industrial collaborations.

List of Websites:
http://www.ecamm.eu/
Coordinator: Prof. Gabriele Centi (M) email: centi@unime.it
Scientific support: Prof. Andrea Caneschi (M) email: andrea.caneschi@unifi.it
Project Manager Dr. Stefano Vannuzzi (M) email svannuzzi@eric-aisbl.eu
Project Team Manager: Dr. Serena Orsi (F) email: sorsi@iccom.cnr.it

Informations connexes

Contact

Gabriele Centi, (President)
Tél.: +390906765609
Fax: +39090391518
E-mail
Numéro d'enregistrement: 184899 / Dernière mise à jour le: 2016-06-23