SMEs are of the utmost importance for the European manufacturing sector. With this in mind, the EU-funded MANUNET II (Supporting SMEs towards a new phase to European Research Area on new processes, adaptive manufacturing systems and the factory of the future) project supported SME funding for manufacturing excellence. To foster the competitiveness of Europe’s manufacturing industry, MANUNET II funded research projects in this sector through yearly calls for proposals. This work was performed by European enterprises, particularly SMEs, universities and research centres representing 14 countries and 13 regions. The MANUNET II team launched six calls for research proposals for transnational collaborative projects. In total, 96 agencies and 1 286 SMEs participated. For the calls, 80 projects were recommended for funding out of 459 proposals. A web survey addressed to applicants and funding agencies measured the impact of the network and its calls. Applicants described the impact at national and regional levels as a boost to international cooperation and also research and innovation activities. They perceive it as a tool that enables knowledge exchange. Funding agencies view MANUNET II as clearly complementary to national, regional or bilateral instruments. Cooperation between MANUNET II and European industry and the research and technological development (RTD) community is considered seamless. In addition, it provides added value for call applicants. MANUNET II invited funding agencies within and beyond Europe to participate in the calls. It contacted several relevant networks and participated in their meetings, conferences and workshops. The project also intensified cooperation with the European Technology Platform Manufuture to get a better understanding of European industry and RTD community needs as well as the priorities of national and regional funding organisations. To maximise publicity for the network and its calls, project partners created dissemination and promotional materials, and revamped the dedicated website to better serve as a main communication platform. MANUNET II further improved on an established framework for long-lasting cooperation on manufacturing in Europe. This will help to meet the needs of Europe’s manufacturing SMEs.
Manufacturing, SMEs, MANUNET II, European Research Area, factory of the future