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RTD-based Cluster iniciative to target future challenges of the Valencia plastic processing industry

Final Report Summary - PLASTIVAL (RTD-based Cluster iniciative to target future challenges of the Valencia plastic processing industry)

The PLASTIVAL project started in 2009 as an European Union (EU) funded project in the domain of Regions of Knowledge in order to enhance competitiveness and innovation among the plastic sector of the Valencian Region. The project focused on the creation of a cluster structure with the aim of being the seed of a research and technology driven (RTD) Cluster. What started as a project consortium finished as a legal constituted cluster in the Valencian Region (December 2010), which can be assessed as the biggest impact of this project.

Through the PLASTIVAL project, the bases for the already constituted cluster were settled. The project, in general terms, performed activities in two phases. The first one gathered information about the plastic sector environment from different points of view (from industry to research and technology centres) and issued a set of technical reports and a RTD roadmap with proposed actions for the next future.

These technical reports consisted in reviews of: technology needs, market trends, state of the art of the technology and CO2 and environment related issues. These reports included the point of view from the different stakeholders in the plastic sector and they represent the starting point for the cluster activities. It is worth mentioning that the aim has always been to enhance competitiveness and innovation in plastic sector and plastic industries through RTD activities and projects. All these technical reports lead to a final RTD roadmap document which is the starting point for the cluster. With the actions stated in the RTD roadmap, the PLASTIVAL cluster can start working on different axis which are of interest for the future of the regional industry.

The second phase was focused on the dissemination and promotion of the cluster structure, the results of the technical reports and the actions to be taken in order to improve competitiveness and innovation in the plastic sector. Apart from publication of articles and promotion through bulletins, magazines and other tools from any of the partners, national and international activities were carried out: congresses, fairs, conferences and workshops.

In order to complete the cluster creation process some mentoring activities were performed in order to find best practices from experienced European plastic clusters as PLASTIPOLIS (French cluster) or CLUSTERLAND (Austrian cluster). A visit to PLASTIPOLIS was organised in order to learn about the creation and the daily management of an RTD cluster.

EU funding has been a key factor in the creation of the PLASTIVAL cluster. EU support boosted the process by helping in setting the basis to the cluster. It is relevant to start cluster activities having a defined RTD roadmap and a real sight of the plastic sector environment. Hopefully, this cluster will help to improve competitiveness and innovation in the Valencian Region plastic sector.

Project context and objectives:

The plastic industry faces many challenges, although the use of plastics grows with news opportunities and applications. To take advantage, SMEs have to innovate and diversify business offer. Clusters assist this process by joining technical centres to monitor technological development, and suppliers of equipment and materials to improve competitiveness.

The plastic processing industry in the Valencian Region supplies to a large number of industries such as the toy, footwear and textile sectors who face the same issues; fierce competition forces these industries to invest heavily to develop new and innovative products and processes, compete on an international level and with more high-tech companies.

The creation of an RTD cluster, PLASTIVAL, enables dialogue between different actors, transfer good practice and common strategy development. Besides, the plastic processing industry requires little initial capital, is labour intensive and is not tied to a particular location unlike the plastic production industry. It is an industry to develop and stabilise economies and create local jobs.

PLASTIVAL general objective is to unite the main regional actors of the plastic processing industry to develop specific actions which will drive to a research driven cluster, in order to target and face the future challenges of the Valencian plastic processing industry.

Following the approach of working with leading organisations in the plastics industry, the main objectives for the PLASTIVAL project are:

- elaborate an RTD roadmap for the next years
- identify concrete RTD projects, taking into consideration environmental aspects related to the reduction of CO2 emissions
- create the operational framework for the cluster
- guarantee its financial sustainability.

The above-mentioned activities are aimed at generating strategic RTD cooperation projects that help SMEs to develop new products and processes and herewith boost the competitiveness of the Valencian SMEs that will lead to an increase of the economic development of the region, in order to participate fully in an industrial sector with great growth potential in Europe taking into account the potential future applications of their products.

Project results:

Activities leading to an RTD roadmap for the PLASTIVAL cluster were planned and performed. Most important activities in this sense have been:

- Development of an internet portal: The internet domain http://www.plastival.org was set up as the PLASTIVAL project website. It is an introduction to the project and a tool for the promotion strategy of the cluster. It also includes a private intranet part with further features for the cluster management.
- Organisation of a steering group and an advisory committee: Through partners of the consortium, meetings and contacts, a steering group for the management of the project was established. An advisory committee was also set up in order to receive their opinions and advices for the strategy and activities of the project.
- Development of a strategy and dissemination plan: A plan for performing the dissemination of the PLASTIVAL cluster project was set up. Different activities were performed under this plan: press releases, event participation, articles in specialised magazines, presentations, etc. A final plan for dissemination and use has been issued (deliverable 3.7) at the end of the project. This final plan shows the high number of actions and activities carried out by all the partners of the PLASTIVAL project.

Some figures are:

- Regarding events, more than 800 people attended, so brochures were directly distributed to people attending from industry, research centres or other institutions. Indirect distribution has also been done regarding brochures (e.g. fairs).
- Regarding fairs and international events, more than 500 people are estimated that have visited the stands from any of PLASTIVAL partners at different fairs.
- Regarding articles, websites and bulletins (paper or electronic) the audience receiving these promotional issues is very wide. It can be said that more than 10 000 people receives issues of any of the tools used by the PLASTIVAL partners, so the cluster itself can guarantee a good dissemination and marketing performance.
- Development of promotional material: A logo, brochures, the website, a template and a brief presentation for the PLASTIVAL consortium have been developed. With these resources, a promotional material support package is available for the strategy and dissemination plan. 1500 brochures were printed in 2009 and 1500 magnetic blackboards have been issued at the end of the project, December 2010, as promotional material.
- Real scanned brochure final version.
- PLASTIVAL logo set design.

Participation in events promoting PLASTIVAL cluster project:

In order to be present at events and to perform promotional strategies some events have been included in the strategy and dissemination plan. Representatives from PLASTIVAL have attended, events like Manufuture (Sweden), MIDEST (France), CphI (Madrid), INTERCLUSTER (Brussels) and K-Fair 2010 (Dusseldorf). At national and regional level two events have been organised, an international congress held in the region BIOPOL 09, and several conferences & workshops organised in the frame of the PLASTIVAL cluster project.

Technical activities gathering information from the sector:

- Identification of technology needs: A report identifying needs of some activity subsectors from the plastic field in the Valencian Region was realised together with representatives from different plastic industries in the region. An expert panel activity was organised for gathering information and assessing technology needs. Subsectors (in the plastic field) considered are wood plastic composites, recycled plastic for food packaging, new plastic materials, opportunities for the medical sector, injection moulding and rapid manufacturing. (See deliverable 2.1)
- Identification of market trends: Research report about plastic market trends identifying the most important markets of the sector, with the aim of providing plastic sector SMEs a useful guide to their strategic decisions. In the report there is a detailed analysis of the current situation and of the most relevant trends for each one of the most important markets of the sector according to the more important statistic data known on the sector. (See deliverable 2.2)
- Identification of state of the art technologies: The report includes an introduction corresponding to an overall view of the Valencian Region plastic industry. Then, the report shows different technologies to identify the state of the art of different plastic subsectors considered. These subsectors are key factors for the polymer converting industry in the region, and they are: packaging, building and civil engineering plastics, automobile industry plastics, health and medical industry plastics, injection moulding and rapid manufacturing. (See deliverable 2.3)
- Environmental / CO2 emissions report: A report including the Valencian Region strategy regarding CO2 emissions and a research on how the regional industry is working against environmental problems (energy saving, CO2, recycling, use of recycled material, etc.). (See deliverable 2.4)

RTD roadmap:
With the information gathered in previous reports, an RTD roadmap is being drafted these days. It will include a set of proposals for concrete RTD projects and actions that aim to transfer technology between the project partners and agents (mainly focused on technology transfer from R&D centres to SMEs). For drafting this RTD roadmap, the same six technology axis for previous reports have been followed and actions proposed were classified under these axis. (See deliverable 2.5)

As a brief summary, the following topics have been identified through this RTD roadmap. These topics will be the basis to set up actions and RTD projects:

Axis 1: Recycled plastic for food packaging
Topics:
- Technological support
- Investment costs
- Human resources, technical and specific training.
- Regulations, standards and legal issues.

Axis 2: Wood plastic composites (WPC)
Topics:
- Technological requirements
- Marketing and commercial issues
- Regulations, standards and legal issues
- Investment costs
- Human resources, technical and specific training.

Axis 3: Automobile industry
Topics:
- Biomaterials
- Human resources, technical and specific training.
- Cooperative projects
- Innovation in management and operation processes (Procurement)

Axis 4: Health and medical industry
Topics:
- Facilities and requirements
- R&D in healthcare products
- Empowering human resources
- Company-customer communication channels
- Company-customer business channels
- Regulations, standards and legal issues.

Axis 5: Injection moulding
Topics:
- Automation
- Mould design
- Multimaterial injection

Axis 6: Additive manufacturing
Topics:
- R&D in traditional injection materials
- R&D new materials
- Technology development independently of providers
- Repetitiveness technologies

Example of RTD topics and actions from the deliverable 2.5 RTD roadmap

- Plastic industry outlook: A report with information about the plastic sector in the Valencian Region. There is a study of the national context, a study about the Valencian Region situation and an overview of the international business in relation to the Valencian Region (trade balance, import, exports, etc.). The report is completed with information about the authorities and research entities in the region and with the case of the Valencian Plastic Association Members. (See deliverable 3.4)
- Visit to PLASTIPOLIS: As a mentoring activity and with the aim of learning from an experienced cluster in the plastic sector, a visit to the French cluster PLASTIPOLIS was performed. During the visit, good practices were detected and discussed with PLASTIPOLIS representatives in order to assess about its implementation. The visits were also very interesting for establishing international contacts and for finding potential partners and projects. (See deliverable 4.1).

The visit was performed aiming at the following objectives:

- Knowing the relationship of the French cluster with technology centres
- Establishing contact with PEP (Pôle Européen du Plastique)
- Knowing international activities that are being performed by PLASTIPOLIS
- Acquiring information regarding organisational issues for setting up the cluster.
- Finding good practices from an experienced cluster
- Receive some 'mentoring' regarding the setting up of the cluster and applying good practices to the actions under PLASTIVAL cluster in Valencian Region
- Assessing with PLASTIPOLIS how to put into practice these good practice taking into account Valencian Region special features
- Establishing international contacts with different institutions and plastic companies
- Finding synergies and possibilities of cooperation with potential partners.

- Visit from PLASTIVAL representatives to CIRFAP training centre

- Visit from PLASTIVAL representatives to CIRFAP mobile training unit

- Plastipolis meeting with Patrick Vuillermoz and David Sasso, at their headquarters in Oyonnax.

- Good practice report: A good practice report was drafted in order to gather all the good practices detected through the visit to the French cluster. A short analysis about the implementation of these good practices in the Valencian Region was also included in the report. (See deliverable 4.2)

- Cluster set up: At the end of 2011, the cluster was established as a legal entity. During the project, regional government has given full support to manage and coordinate the creation of the cluster. (See deliverable 4.3)

To carry out these activities, coordination meetings, technical meetings, participation in events for promotion, conferences and workshops with companies have been organized. These activities have been supported with the promotional material developed (logos, brochures, presentation templates and a website).

Potential impact:

As a summary and assessment for the impact of main dissemination activities carried out, different metrics can be analysed. Below, there are figures and results regarding different actions performed (tools, technical reports, events and visits, publications and dissemination):

Tools:
The following items were developed during the project:

- Website (including intranet for partner communication): The website includes all the public deliverables issued by the project (see http://www.plastival.org online).
- Logos and presentation templates were designed for the promotional material and further dissemination activities performed.
- Promotional material was designed: 1500 brochures in both English and Spanish (first promotional material release) and 1500 magnetic blackboards (end project promotional material release).

Technical reports:
Technical reports were not a tool itself to increase awareness but, as the consortium collaborated with the industry and research institutions in order to draft good technical reports, an awareness effect derived from these reports. More than 100 people and more than 35 companies were involved in the drafting process for these technical reports.

Events and visits:
Regarding events and visits, this is the most powerful tool for an effective awareness because they involve people attendance to an event, fair or visit focused on PLASTIVAL's issues.
As a result, the following items can be highlighted:

- Three thematic conferences were organied
- Meeting with high level regional authorities
- 19 events were attended (fairs, congresses, presentations and conferences, at national and international level. See deliverable 3.7 'Final dissemination plan')
- Visit to the French cluster PLASTIPOLIS.
- Meeting with the Austrian cluster CLUSTERLAND during a fair.

More than 500 hundred people at national and international level have been contacted through fairs and international events. If we consider people attending to other events, it has been estimated around 800 people.

Fairs and events (national and international):

- 5 March 2009: New materials Forum - Alicante, SPAIN. Event for presenting new materials to Industry, Researchers and any other institution attending.
- 24-25 September 2009: European Tooling Forum - Milán, ITALY. Event organized by the european technology platform Manufuture.
- 30 September - 2 October 2009: BIOPOL - Alicante, SPAIN. International Congress on biodegradable polymers. Promotion of PLASTIVAL project.
- 13-15 October 2009: CPhI Worldwide - Madrid, SPAIN. International Convention on Pharmaceutical Ingredients and intermediates. Horizontal areas like packaging, blisters and plastic-pharma related technologies are also covered in this International convention.
- 15 October 2009: International Congress on Composites - Valencia, SPAIN. Congress on plastic composites as key factor for the plastic industry.
- 16-18 October 2009: Feria China Pec - Taizhou, CHINA. International trade fair for Plastic and rubber.
- 3-6 November 2009: MADERALIA - Valencia , SPAIN. International fair in the wood sector.
- 4 November 2009: IDINOVA Fair - Valencia, SPAIN. Innovation, research and development applications fair.
- 5 November 2009: MIDEST - Paris, FRANCE. Industrial international fair.
- 30 Novemebr - 1 December 2009: MANUFUTURE - Goteborg, SWEDEN. Manufuture Technology Platform Annual Event.
- 3-4 December 2009: INTERCLUSTER - Brussels, BELGIUM. Cluster event. More than 30 clusters involved at european level.
- June 2010: How to save Energy in your company. Valencia, SPAIN. Event for plastic companies
- September 2010: Funding opportunities for plastic industries in the 7FP. Valencia, SPAIN. Event for plastic companies
- September 2010: Plastic Packaging for agrofood applications. Valencia, SPAIN. Event for plastic companies
- 14 October 2010: Recycling, energetic valorisation and plastic wastes. Valencia, SPAIN. Event for plastic companies.
- 20 October 2010: Wood Plastic Composites. Valencia, SPAIN. Event for plastic companies.
- 27 October 2010 - 3 November 2010: K FAIR 2010 - Dusseldorf, GERMANY. International Fair on plastics. Promotion of the cluster. Partner Search. Meeting with other clusters (PLASTIPOLIS, CLUSTERLAND).
- 11 November 2010: Cost Reduction using extrusion. Valencia, SPAIN. Event for plastic companies.
- 22-23 November 2010: Applied Nanotechnology. Alicante, SPAIN. Event for companies, researchers and other institutions (see http://jornadasnanoua.es for details).

Thematic conferences:

- 12 November 2009:PLASTIVAL Presentation and Expert Panel - Valencia, SPAIN. Promotional event for PLASTIVAL: Presentation and Activities of Expert panel and Advisory Committee included in the event.
- 7 April 2010: PLASTIVAL - Thematic Conference. Presentation of Activities Carried Out. Public Authorities, Reseach Centres, Technology Institutes. Lobbying actions.
- 7 April 2010 (Afternoon): PLASTIVAL - Thematic Conference. Presentation of Activities Carried Out. Presentation to Plastic Industry representatives.
- 21 April 2010: Meeting with regional DG Industry. Meeting for discussing with government about best structure for setting up and possibilities of public funding towards 2011

Publications and dissemination:
Regarding publication of articles and dissemination of the project results and tasks it can be said that more than 10 000 people received issues from any of the dissemination tools used by the PLASTIVAL partners, so the cluster itself guaranteed a good awareness level and marketing performance.More than 20 different magazines, bulletins or electronic bulletins have been used for increasing awareness about the PLASTIVAL cluster project.

Project website:

The public website address is http://www.plastival.org This website will be, from now on, managed by the new cluster organisation. It will continue as a tool to promote PLASTIVAL activities, news, information and services available for the plastic industry.

Below, relevant contacts from partner institutions in the project are listed:

IMPIVA - Instituto Mediana y Pequeña Industria de la Generalitat Valenciana
Mr Francisco Ferrando Casanova - Head of the International Department
Postal Address: Pza. del Ayuntamiento 6, 46002 Valencia
Tel: +34-963-986200
Email: francisco.ferrando@impiva.gva.es

UA - Universidad de Alicante
Mr Iván Rodriguez Roselló - Technology Transfer Office
Postal Address: Campus San Vicente, Technology Transfer Office, 03690 Alicante
Tel: +34-965-909959
Email: ivan.rodriguez@ua.es

UPV - Universidad Politécnica de Valencia
Professor Juan López Martínez
Postal Address: Plaza Ferrándiz y Carbonell, nº, 2. Dep. Ingeniería Mecánica y Materiales
Tel: +34-966-528400
Email: jlopezm@mcm.upv.es

AVEP - Asociación Valenciana de Empresarios del Plástico
Ms Cristina Monge Frontiñán - General Manager
Postal Address: Avda. Barón de Cárcer 38, 2ª, 46001, Valencia
Tel: +34-963-516159
Email: cmonge@avep.es

AIMPLAS - Instituto Tecnológico del Plástico
Ms Liliana Chamudis - Head of Projects Area. Deputy Director
Postal Address: C/ Gustave Eiffel 4, 46980, Paterna, Parc Tecnològic
Tel: +34-961-366040
Email: lchamudis@aimplas.es

AIMME - Instituto Tecnológico Metal Mecánico
Ms Noelia Antequera - International Projects
Postal Address: Avda. Leonardo Da Vinci, Parque Tecnológico, 46980 Paterna
Tel: +34-961-378559
Email: nantequera@aimme.es

AIJU - Instituto Tecnológico del Juguete Mr. Jaime Vilaplana - International Projects
Postal Address: Avda. De la Industria 23, 03440 Ibi (Alicante)
Tel: +34-965-554475
Email: Jaime.vilaplana@aiju.info

CAM - Caja Mediterráneo
Mr David Senabre - International & Welfare Projects
Postal Address: Avda. Dr. Gadea 1, 03003, Alicante
Tel: +34-965-905639
Email: dsenabre@cam.es

SABIC IP Plastics
Mr Jordi de Tera - Account Manager
Postal Address: C/ Frederic Mompou 5, 4º4ª,08960 Sant Just Desvern (Barcelona)
Tel: +34-932-521621
Email: jordi.detera@sabic-ip.com

AVENIDA PLASTICS
Ms Julia Vicedo - Deputy Director
Postal Address: Pol. Industrial Alfaç III, C/ Palencia 3, 03440 Ibi
Tel: +34-966-554050
Email: Julia@avenidaplastics.com

CERVIC
Mr Gustavo Cerdá - General Manager
Postal Address: Avenida del Juguete 14, 03440, Ibi
Tel: +34-965-550267
Email: gustavoc@cervic.com