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Advanced materials and innovative design for improved functionality and aesthetics in high added value consumer goods


Proposals should address the development of innovative advanced material solutions (e.g. superhydrophobic/superoleophobic nanomaterials and nanoscale systems, self-cleaning and self-healing systems, smart textile fabrics and papers, biomimetic, shape change/memory materials, self-assembling systems, energy harvesters) for use in the creative industry sectors defined above to make urban living significantly easier, more sustainable, more comfortable, more secure and more functional. Creativity, cultural and societal values, alongside specialist knowledge, should be driving the material innovation (e.g. increased performance, lightness, safety, sustainability, improved lifetime) to add value to products through the use of new intangible material functionalities (e.g. creative design, artistic expression, trend translation, enhanced sensations, cultural values).

Proof of concept in terms of product and/or process must be delivered within the project, excluding commercially usable prototypes (in compliance with European Commission Communication 2006/C323/01), but convincingly demonstrating scalability towards industrial needs.

In order to ensure the industrial relevance and impact of the research efforts, the key properties improvement and commercial potential of the innovative technologies compared to state-of-the-art solutions currently available on the market should be convincingly assessed in the proposal. Sustainability aspects in the whole life cycle of the final products should be taken into account. The active participation of designers, artists, societal stakeholders, material scientists, materials suppliers, researchers, manufacturers and end users of the resulting products represents an added value and this will be reflected in the second stage of the evaluation. As relevant, the proposed activities should address sex and gender specific aspects[[See definition of the 'gender dimension approach' in the introduction of this Work Programme part.]].

Activities are expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 4 to 6, and target Technology Readiness Level 7.

A significant participation of SMEs with R&D capacities is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 5 and 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Creative industries have been defined as one of the most active, significant and relevant new emerging industrial sectors in the European economy (Report on Emergency Industries, PwC, 2012). The creative industries linked to manufacturing (e.g. architecture, automotive, art, crafts, supports for cultural items, decoration, fashion, furniture, lighting, interior design materials and products, jewels, luxury, media supports, publishing, sport and toys) are generators of competitive advantages that cannot be reproduced elsewhere, promoters of local development and drivers of industrial change (COM(2012)537 ‘Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU’).

Creative SMEs in particular can make use of design as a strategic tool to create innovative products and services addressing new consumers' standards and societal challenges while assuring competitive and sustainable development.

However, the future European exploitation of this rich sector depend on the EU ability to support high-growth creative SMEs and start-ups in exploiting highly innovative technological advances in materials for commercial, cultural and societal applications.

To promote design-driven innovation, a number of action lines have been endorsed by the Commission, including integrating design into research and development and promoting new collaborative innovation strategies (‘Implementing an Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation’, SWD(2013)380).

  • Novel, higher added-value, better performing, sustainable, versatile, appealing designs and creative solutions for consumer goods based on innovative advanced materials or structures;
  • Good integrability of the proposed innovative materials in final products (e.g. using a modular approach) and quickly reconfigurable to new custom requirements;
  • Promoting new collaborative innovation strategies and practices along the value chain to develop commercial, cultural and societal applications with a strong user orientation, creating new business opportunities for the European industry and contributing to the circular economy in terms of one or more of the following: increased competiveness, faster recovery of investment, access to new markets, access to new customer segments, increased business effectiveness, increased costumer engagement, increased environmental sustainability;
  • Enhancing innovation capability and competiveness of European SMEs by effectively combining and transferring new and existing knowledge with ‘intangible’ factors (e.g. creative design, artistic expression, trend translation, enhanced sensations, cultural values);
  • Increasing awareness of designers about new materials;
  • Contribute to achieving the relevant EU policy objectives in COM(2012)537, ‘Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU’.

Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.