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Final Report Summary - NMP-MANUFUTURE (European industrial breakthrough leading towards an integrated competitive sustainable industry)

Organisationally the two main activities of the project were the implementation of the NMP-MANUFUTURE conference in 2010 and the preparation and communication activities around this event. The project was structured in two work packages (WPs) in order to distinguish the specific tasks for organising the event (WP2) and the overall management activities of the project (WP1). Four project members (beneficiaries) took actively part to this organisation: the Public Service of Wallonia (and more specifically its Department of Research Programmes) as coordinator, the Belgian federation for the technology industries Agoria, the collective centre of Belgian technological industry Sirris and the Flemish Government through its Department of Economy, Science and Innovation.

The project NMP-MANUFUTURE focused essentially on integration, aiming at bringing together stakeholders and visions in different dimensions among the nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies (NMP) communities and the NMP and manufuture research communities and industrial communities. It materialised through the organisation of an 'Industrial technologies conference 2010' (IT2010) in Belgium. It addressed three major objectives: the interaction, complementarities and synergies between the 'sub-themes' of the NMP theme in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), between the NMP and manufuture communities and the 'research for integrated industrial implementation' through the Manufuture Technology Platform and the related FoF under the European Union (EU) Recovery Plan.

The Industrial technologies conference, held in Brussels on 7-9 September 2010 was the first to cover the full scope of the NMP Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Organised under the patronage of the Belgian EU Presidency, the 'pan-NMP' Industrial Technologies 2010 conference replaced previous years' separate events on nanotechnologies and manufacturing, with the specific intent of drawing attention to the need for innovation on a more integrated geographical and technological scale. An audience of almost 1000 attendees gathered in the appropriately industrial ambience of the capital city's tour et taxis complex, a recently renovated 19th century goods station for the canal port of Brussels.

The programme comprised two days of plenary presentations by high-level speakers from industry and the research community, interspersed with a series of parallel sessions discussing the social, economic and environmental perspectives of European industry, as well as the underlying horizontal issues. A third day provided match-making opportunities for the participants to make contact with potential research and business partners throughout the Member States and Associated Countries, with support from the NMP team, the National Contact Points and Europe Enterprise Network to foster such collaborations and advise on funding sources.

Several of the speakers covered similar grounds, notably in describing future applications for nanotechnologies and enumerating the perceived needs for public support of research and development (R&D).

Project context and objectives:

Integration was a key characteristic of the project coordinated by Wallonia, since it aimed at bringing together stake-holders and visions in different dimensions. It envisaged the sharing of information and visions:

(1) among the nanotechnology, the materials technology and the production technology communities gathered under the FP7 NMP theme as well as fostering interaction between these communities;
(2) between the NMP communities and the manufuture community;
(3) between the NMP and manufuture research communities and the industrial world, and more particularly through interaction with the Manufuture Technology Platform and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) 'Factories of the future' (FoF).

One of the objectives was to improve the interaction between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the NMP programme and to improve the access of the SMEs to the value chain. The NMP conference was an opportunity especially for new coming SMEs to represents themselves to the major actors in the area. SMEs have in particular the problem to enter the market even if they have a good product. As outlined in the proposal, the NMP conference offered a good opportunity for the different players and actors to discuss possibilities for future partnerships in R&D or the market.

This project also came within the scope of the Manufuture European Technology Platform created in 2003. Its mission is to propose, develop and implement a strategy based on Research and Innovation, capable of speeding up the rate of industrial transformation to high-added-value products, processes and services, securing high-skills employment and winning a major share of world manufacturing output in the future knowledge-driven economy. Since 2003, the Manufuture Technology Platform organises a yearly public conference in the country holding the presidency of the EU in the second half of the year. Over these years, the Manufuture Technology Platform has gained momentum. The Manufuture Technology Platform is currently playing a crucial role in the implementation of the 'Factories of the future' PPP initiative within the framework of the EU Recovery Plan. These annual Manufuture conferences are of strategic importance for the industrial mobilisation in research and innovation in the manufacturing for the profit of the European citizens (Europe needs a rise of its GNP to 1 %). The previous six editions of the Manufuture conference have been held in Italy (2003), the Netherlands (2004), United Kingdom (2005), Finland (2006), Portugal (2007), France (2008) and Sweden (2009). The Manufuture conferences were organised with a strong support and involvement of the NMP programme of the European Commission (EC, DG Research) at different levels.

The project realised the above described obejctive of integration through the organisation of an NMP-Manufuture conference in Belgium. It featured a common policy: oriented plenary session for both objectives, information day sessions integrating the NMP and FoF initiatives. It also organised brokerage events for project participants and invited potential applicants, and more particularly SMEs.

An integrated research and industries' exhibition was also planned. The conference gathered an international forum to evaluate to what extent integration among the NMP components has been effectively realised and how it could further be materialised and amplified. It presented the preliminary results of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and FP7 projects, involved the related European Technology Platforms, and the three PPPs or the Recovery Plan, as well as the perspectives of the NMP programme to the scientific public and decision makers. It promoted integration through the Manufuture Technology Platform acting as the integrator of the enabling technologies in the FoF and acting as enabler of the production of the micro and nanotechnology-based products composed of new materials.

The event was most timely since it coincided with the mid-term of FP7, the NMP 2011 Calls for proposals, the recent appointment of the EU Commissioner for Science, Research and Innovation and the Belgian Presidency.

Project results:

Main results / foregrounds of the project can be found in the analysis of various speeches through which keynote speakers have highlighted how nanoscience and nanotechnologies could contribute to a sustainable society considering different aspects such as research evolution, growth, manufacture, business opportunities, new challenges, etc.

(1) Nano to change the world?

In a first keynote speech, Flemming Besenbacher, Director the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre at Aarhus University, Denmark, considered how nanoscience and nanotechnologies could change the world by 2025.

Nanoscience represents a convergence of the traditional scientific disciplines. Besenbacher considers it equally important to support fundamental and applied strategic research, both of which are essential to the discovery, development and modelling of promising new materials in the nanodomain. To break down the interdisciplinary barriers, he also advocates the creation of educational programmes designed to foster a new generation of more broadly-based researchers able to deal with the manipulation of atoms and molecules.

Like the internal combustion engine and the semiconductor revolution, nanotechnologies are likely to bring radical changes in our way of life; the full the extent of their impact is as yet unknown, but the possibilities are huge in areas such as medicine, information technologies, food, automotive and aerospace, security and the environment. Nanoelectronics have already arrived, in the form of integrated circuits with nanoscale transistors that pack more and more functionality into compact mobile devices. Robotics is also beginning to emerge. Within a few years, robots will replace tedious manual labour in factories, hospitals, universities and the home.

Emission-free energy

Among the most promising additional areas in which nanotechnologies could contribute is in the provision a future sustainable energy supply. Under the pressure of rising world population and increasing lifestyle aspirations, global energy consumption is expected to double from the present level of 15 terawatt by 2050, and to triple by 2100. This will put a massive strain on Earth's resources - not only in terms of the available hydrocarbon fuel reserves, but also in strategic materials such as platinum for fuel cells.

A greater EU effort in nano-related R&D effort would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through more efficient use of existing resources, and by the development of new and improved energy production and storage methods.

Nanomaterials and devices could markedly improve the efficiency of wind turbines and solar energy capture (the latter tapping a resource that is, in principle, capable of meeting global demand many thousands of times over). Energy storage in the form of batteries and hydrogen generation systems, thermoelectronics and fuel cells are more areas in which nanomaterials are already showing considerable promise.

Solar generation will be the preferred long-term choice, but at present it remains too expensive for large-scale deployment. While second generation thin-film solar panels had broken through the 1 Watt barrier by 2009, further cost reduction by a factor of four or five will realistically be needed.

With further improvements in efficiency, technology based on the deposition of dye-sensitised nanoparticles on flexible plastic substrates may eventually replace silicon for the manufacture of panels. These could then, for example, be incorporated directly into the windows of buildings.

At present, catalysis remains a major application of nanotechnology, applicable to many chemical synthesis processes such as the desulphurisation of mineral oil, which is facilitating environmental protection in the period before more radical energy strategies can be adopted.

New approaches to medicine

As Europe's population ages to the extent that over-65s will represent 42 % of all citizens by 2020, joint problems and chronic diseases are placing an increasing burden on the region's healthcare systems. Nanotechnologies are being investigated as routes to safer, more cost-effective solutions for detection, prevention and treatment of many such conditions.

With greater involvement of the medical community in research, the emerging nanomedicine will have a significant impact on accelerating the transition of laboratory discoveries 'from bench to bed' in the fields of drug design and delivery, imaging, diagnostics and cell therapy, Besenbacher maintains.

Nanomedicine will permit increased usage of individualised treatments to replace today's practices, where patient groups with the same diagnosis receive the same prescription regardless of whether the drugs will actually benefit them personally. The technologies may be considerably more expensive, but their greater efficacy could avoid the costs of extended after-care.

Technology convergence

The convergence of traditional scientific disciplines is a natural evolution made possible by the ability to work at the atomic-scale. Bringing together nano-, bio-, informatic and cognitive science (NBIC) will bring many more exciting possibilities through opportunities to learn from nature. Nanotechnology can provide miniaturised devices such as sensors that help neuroscientists to determine how the mind works, while biotechnology and information technologies (IT) advances make body and machine connectable. Combining insights from the various fields opens the door to more intelligent machines and robots, providing a powerful impetus for R&D in many domains likely to improve the quality of human life.

(2) Formula for growth:

In a presentation considering the prospects and needs for the future of a knowledge-based European industry, Jean Stéphenne, Chairman and President of GSK Biologicals, defined six key factors for growth:

1. making important strategic choices;
2. managing talents and organisational models;
3. mergers and acquisition / openness to international markets;
4. believing in the strength of partnerships;
5. promoting innovation for added value;
6. favourable environment

To be successful, Stéphenne suggests, businesses must have a clear purpose, a clear mission and passionate people. In the global economy, even SMEs need to take a world view and be open to change.

Developing the right competences for the future requires a transformation of the education system to reduce the separation between schools and companies, he states. It is not a problem to recruit researchers, but business development managers who can move between science and business are difficult to find.

Learning is not just acquired from books; it is important to be outward looking, ready to break down barriers and open to influences from foreign cultures and other companies. Participation in collaborative and transnational R&D projects is one useful way to maintain an open culture.

Another prerequisite is to change the organisational model by adopting integrated structures linking research to marketing, globalising the business, encouraging management mobility and enabling the workforce to participate in company results. Modern communications make it possible to develop worldwide markets, but enterprises should strive to keep the essential knowledge and investment within Europe.

Overcoming the obstacles

Although factors such as complicated legislation and complex social regulation can hamper faster growth, there are ways to overcome these obstacles. One practical approach is to build strength by forming clusters of companies. Moreover, entrepreneurs should not isolate themselves, but rather be ready to join forces with universities and research centres around the world, to construct networks in critical technological areas. The European, national and regional authorities play an important part by brokering such partnerships (e.g. through events like the match-making day at this conference).

Innovation through research requires synergy between different complementary actors to blend scientific knowledge with the technological competences of engineers in creating products of added value to overcome the disadvantage of high labour costs.

Because nanotechnologies represent a radical new approach to manufacturing, failure to respond to its challenges will threaten the competitiveness of large sectors of the economy. To arrive at the stage of nano-enabled products, industry will need to develop the tools, essential equipment and software necessary to visualise, characterise and manipulate materials at the nanoscale. Future development will also depend on consumer acceptance of the resultant innovations; attention must thus also be paid to their ethical, social and safety implications. Industry has a duty to inform the general public about the benefits and possible inherent risks. Misapprehensions can trigger unfounded fears that nanomaterials are toxic. Dealing with these issues requires thorough investigation by industry and sensible science-based regulation from the authorities, backed by substantial funding from all sides.

Economic growth will come from innovation, and innovation is the result of combining research, risk and investment.

(3) Ultra-precision manufacture:

Paul Shore, of Cranfield University, United Kingfom, and Vice President of the European Society for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology (Euspen), traced the advances being made in ultra-precision manufacturing as the enabling technology for new generations of products in sectors ranging from energy and environment to medicine and consumer products.

The concept of ultra-precision shifts with time towards ever-higher levels of accuracy, Shore explained. He recalls that nanotechnology pioneer and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman first predicted nanoscale information writing with electron beams in the late 1950s. By 2000, the wafer stepper machines employed for integrated circuit production were achieving overlay accuracies of around 4 nm. The optical components used for this purpose had a form accuracy of about 1 part in 10^8. Ten years later, with a shift from transmissive to reflective optics, overlay accuracy had improved to around 2 nm, equivalent to a form accuracy of around 1 in 10^9.

Large modern telescopes require similar levels of capability; for these, spin-off companies established by Cranfield and using specially constructed machines for grinding, polishing and plasma surfacing are now manufacturing 1-m sized optical units to the same accuracy as that required for the next generation of wafer steppers. Furthermore, these can now be produced ten times faster than was previously possible, cutting the unit cost from 120 000 to 12 000. A telescope planned for production in Europe will contain 1000 of the units.

Business opportunities:

Some telescopes, known as 'earth orbiters', are assembled in space to look inwards at the Earth and monitor environmental conditions. These are made from materials that are highly inert, but difficult to process. Earth orbiters are a growing business for the optical industry, which in coming years could also benefit from demand for large components for a maturing fusion energy sector.

In the latter application, exposure to high energy levels causes rapid wear of the focussing optics, so the ability to manufacture or refurbish quickly and reproducibly will provide competitive edge in what could in the longer term become an important mode of sustainable energy supply.

Ultra-precision techniques are now also being used to make diamond-cut moulds for low-cost imprinting of nanometric structures onto flexible films that can be employed for the manipulation of light in brightness enhancers for flat panel displays, and potentially in solar concentrators. Typically, these have feature sharpness down to around 200 nm. The flat film can readily be moulded into a form suitable for incorporation into a concentrator to enhance the photovoltaic energy generation performance. Shore estimates a market potential for 7*10^6 m2 of such film over the next few years.

Another commercially promising application is the rapid manufacture of prototypes for large companies involved in areas such as the development of new three-dimensional (3D) imaging displays. More fields under investigation at Cranfield are reel-to-reel production of microfluidic device structures, microlens arrays and plastic electronic systems; precision bearings; atmospheric monitoring and aero-engine turbine blades.

(4) Manufacturing matters:

Prefacing the second day of proceedings, Richard Dick, Chairman of the engineering industries association Orgalime, stressed the importance of a supportive culture, strong leadership in companies and a holistic outlook to sustain the momentum of innovation, which has become increasingly complicated over the years.

How have the Framework Programmes, in particular, measured up to industry's needs? Dick recognises both positive and negative points. Overall, he regards the R&D efforts as good, with ample scope for engineering companies to participate and benefit from the integration of interdisciplinary skills. Though the creation of the European Technology Platforms, opportunities for networking have increased, with common priorities set by the roadmapping processes.

FP7, with a budget of around EUR 50 billion, marks a substantial increase in support compared with the EUR 17 billion allocated for FP6. Orgalime is particularly enthusiastic about the FoF public-private partnership (PPP), created as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan. For the first time, FoF earmarks finance exclusively for research into production technologies and brings the public and private sectors together. Dick regards this as a major step forward, which could serve as a model for more future initiatives.

The complexity of procedures for grant application remains something of a deterrent, especially for SMEs and new candidates - which may be have been a reason for the decline in industrial participation between FP4 and FP6. Subsequently there has been some simplification and speeding up of the processes, but industry believes still more could be done. More flexibility in the financial arrangements is also highly desirable, as is a reduction in the divergence of requirements from different Directorates General.

Promoting SME involvement in NMP projects has resulted in a participation increase to almost 23 % in FP7, but enterprises in the 250 - 1000 employee range are considered to be less well served - leading to a call for more latitude in the size classification.

Concerns are also voiced by small companies about the large size of many projects and consortia, and the focus on breakthrough, rather than the stepwise advances and market innovations that can be just as essential.

Orgalime concurs with the view a strong manufacturing sector is vital to continuing European competitiveness, and that the support for R&D must be strengthened in the present difficult times. Dick sees encouraging signs from the work of EFFRA (the European Factories of the Future Research Association) - which, in cooperation with the Commission, could help to fulfill more of industry's wishes in the run-up to the Eight Framework Programme (FP8).

(5) Technologies for the FoF:

Massimo Mattucci, Chairman of EFFRA and Executive Vice-President, Comau Group, attests to the great deal of work carried out over the past 15 months to structure the FoF partnership. The PPP addresses the same goals as Europe 2020, and Mattucci insists that it is a logical way to derive maximum benefit from limited resources.

As the representative of the private sector, the association supports the call for simplicity, speed and better assimilation of SMEs. An industrial participation of 50 % and a strong SME showing in the first FoF Call for Proposals indicates a move in the right direction.

New paradigm:

The FoF research roadmap looks beyond the lean manufacturing paradigm of a few years ago, to embrace a concept of innovation based on more sustainable production, intelligent manufacturing through full integration of information and communication technologies (ICT), high performance and productivity, and the use of new materials to conserve resources.

While retaining the above four strategic pillars, progressive updating of the roadmap in the light of actual experiences provides an informed input to assist the EC in selecting priorities for the annual FoF Calls.

Topics proposed in July for the 2011 Call were the following:

- The Eco-Factory: cleaner and more resource-efficient production in manufacturing;
- Cooperative machines and open-architecture control systems;
- Smart Factories: iIntegrated process automation and optimisation for sustainable manufacturing, applications based on context-aware ICT and scalable networks of sensors, robotics-enabled production processes, laser applications, plug-and-produce components for adaptive control;
- Supply chain approaches for small series industrial production;
- Towards zero-defect manufacturing;
- Manufacturing chains for nano-phased components and coatings;
- Intelligent, scalable manufacturing platforms and equipment for components with microand nano-scale functional features.

For the remainder of FP7 (2012-13), the requirements have provisionally been assessed as follows:

- new human-robot cooperation in advanced factory environments;
- sustainable maintenance of production equipment;
- innovative re-use of equipment and integrated factory lay-out design;
- production using environment-neutral materials;
- manufacturing of engineered metallic and composite materials.

So far, the PPPs have been effective in challenging the underinvestment in research, Mattucci concludes. By keeping the strategic roadmap up-to-date and close to real-world needs, and by working closely with the EC in defining targets and improving the modes of operation, EFFRA can play a valuable part in ensuring the research will be on course to underpin continuing industrial competitiveness.

(6) Towards intelligent manufacturing

For Hendrik Van Brussel, Professor in mechatronics and automation at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, European manufacturing industry can only succeed if it simultaneously satisfies market needs (quality, cost-efficiency and short time-to-market) and those of society (sustainable products and processes). This, in turn, implies substantial improvement in the 'intelligence' of products and manufacturing systems, by the incorporation of features that confer human-like attributes of autonomy and social behaviour.

Van Brussel proposes a 'holonic' model of integration, together with appropriate enabling technologies, as the ideal framework within which to achieve this goal. A holon is defined as 'something that has integrity and identity at the same time as it is a part, or subsystem, of a larger system. A holonic manufacturing system thus consists of a society of autonomous, cooperating agents working together to achieve global strategic goals such as those described by Massimo Mattucci (see above).

According to Van Brussel, the new systems will have to cope with a number paradigm shifts:

- towards a drastic reduction of time-to-market;
- towards a broader vision on 'performance';
- towards mass customisation and a service economy;
- towards 'co-creation'; and
- towards the ubiquitous (pervasive) machine.

Faster to market:

The automotive sector, for example, has seen product introduction times shrink from 60 months to 20 months over the past 15 years. This is a major achievement, but substantial reductions will be necessary for all industries to sustain their competitiveness.

This is now possible with the aid of design and engineering approaches such as concurrent engineering of products and production systems; and mechatronic design methodology, which combines machine design, control engineering, electronics, physics, informatics, etc., in a synergetic way that gives rise to superior products.

Modular, reconfigurable, multi-functional and high-speed machine concepts are required to implement the new manufacturing methods. In addition, new processes like laser-based techniques reel-to-reel printing and net-shape manufacturing must be introduced to win the desired time and cost savings.

Enhanced performance:

Life cycle design, embracing factors such as materials choice; ease of manufacture, assembly, use and disassembly; packaging; maintenance and ecological impact will become the code of good practice to assure sustainability of products and manufacturing systems. Here, too, mechatronic design will contribute by delivering more robust, resilient and high-precision products.

Personalised products:

Offering a more personalised response to customer demands necessitates an ability to produce in small batches at mass production rates and costs. To provide the required flexibility, machines must become modular and reconfigurable, with compatible 'plug and play' sub-systems and distributed control (the holonic model).


Industry has evolved from one-off craft manufacture, through standardised mass production, to the increasing provision of tailored specifications and options. The trend is towards growing involvement of the customer in design decisions. Interactions with suppliers are facilitated by advanced use of ICT in the factories, to permit open communication and work-sharing between production modules in what can be described as 'virtual enterprises'. In addition, the customisation of products is being streamlined by the emergence of new ICT-based technologies - for virtual and rapid prototyping to eliminate time-consuming traditional methods, augmented reality for design and diagnosis, and even the planning and layout of complete factories.

Ubiquitous machines:

Machines, like computers, are becoming ever more closely woven into the fabric of everyday life: a phenomenon that Van Brussel likens to an 'internet of things', in which all objects in the world are interconnected. This is already becoming reality on the factory floor, where machines are becoming 'intelligent beings' capable of 'understanding' instructions. When linked into holonic or biologicallyinspired systems, they open a whole new dimension in plant control and management.

This calls for more naturalistic methods of human-machine interfacing, such as learning by demonstration and control though physical interaction - both to reduce programming time and to make machines perform in a human-like way. Input from the cognitive sciences will be needed to make the machines themselves more intelligent, and to accelerate their acceptance in humancentred industrial environments.

(7) Addressing the eco-efficiency challenges through research and innovation

Michael Hauser, CEO of GF AgieCharmilles, Switzerland, and President of CECIMO (the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries) points out that limited access to key natural resources makes it crucial for EU enterprises to invest in new eco-efficient technologies. Reducing primary energy demand is one of the easiest, cheapest and cleanest ways to address this issue, he claims.

The importance of the environment to the European economy is underlined in the Lisbon and Europe 2020 strategies, and supported by a number of EC Directives - including recent new regulations on construction and consumer products. Industry backs the strong environmental legislation, but needs standardised tools to implement eco-efficiency. Hauser notes that third countries are moving ahead in regulatory as well as competitive terms, so Europe must to move faster to maintain its position.

Self-regulation initiative:

From 2012, EU machine tool manufacturers serving the European market will have to comply with a new eco-design regulation that could include some areas of innovation not yet covered by standards, which could create extra technological burdens and administrative costs. CECIMO has therefore opted for a self-regulatory initiative to meet the requirements of the directive.

In the 2005 energy-using products (EUP) Directive, the EC had already promoted selfregulation as an efficient solution to reduce the administrative overhead and foster innovation. It means that matters such as the identification of best practices and target-setting for environmental improvements will be in the hands of the industry. The objective is to increase the environmental performance of all machine tools, without limiting the innovative potential of their manufacturers.

The initiative was developed without any external funding. Its modular approach enables constructors to calculate the environmental improvements in their products, without having to compare them directly with competitors' machines.

Attention to energy-efficiency has only a short history in this industry, so some topics are not yet addressed in the research agenda at EU level. PPPs such as FoF are important in filling this gap.

Investment targets:

Although the R&D investment of top companies is on a par with that of their United States (US) counterparts, Europe as a whole still lags behind in innovation. If the 3 % of gross domestic product (GDP) goal could be reached, Hauser believes it would be possible to outperform the global rivals - but only if the budget is spent wisely in areas that merit further expenditure.

There is a need for appropriate techniques to evaluate the energy-efficiency of products, which is not always a simple matter, given the diversity and complexity of machine tools. More investigation of nanotechnologies and ICT in this sector could also contribute in the fight against climate change.

While pursuing increases in energy-efficiency, it is equally essential to seek improvements in productivity, quality and the precision of manufacture. More considerations are reductions in resource use and in unproductive time in the workplace.

It should not be forgotten that European industry has been seriously impacted by the economic crisis; the machine tools sector saw a decline in orders of more than 50 %, and is only now showing some signs of recovery. Against this background, the stimulation of innovation depends on the support of policy-makers and the encouragement of creative corporate cultures able to bring more intelligence into the processes of production.

(8) Innovative technologies in compressed air and vacuum:

Robert Michael Fielding, Professor at Newcastle University, United Kingdom, and council member of Pneurop (European Committee of Manufacturers of Compressors, Vacuum Pumps, Pneumatic Tools and Air & Condensate Treatment), presented compressors and vacuum pumps as essential enablers of many innovative and viable environmental challenges.

The versatility, flexibility and safety of compressed air as an energy transmitting medium has long ensured its use as an essential service in all kinds of industries. Pneurop has now introduced its 'Green challenge 2020' as a means to build awareness of the savings in energy and cost that can be gained in a modern sustainable manufacturing context.

Compressed air is increasingly used as an integral raw material in processes that make use of its intrinsic properties. Some new bio-based industries, for example, exploit its 76 % nitrogen content as an inexpensive and low-maintenance alternative to cylinder gas. Indeed, air is fast becoming a preferred source of on-demand high-purity nitrogen.

Similarly, vacuum deposition processes can replace electrolytic deposition, eliminating the use and disposal of hazardous chemicals. Low pressure, low temperature distillation, as opposed to steam distillation, also reduces the thermal energy demand, while vacuum degassing of specialty alloy steels improves purity and again saves energy when compared with traditional steam degassing.

Some applications, such as the pneumatic braking systems in trucks and railcars, leave no room for errors. Pneurop members have therefore played an active part in continuously improving standardisation, and establishing codes of practice to ensure safe usage and storage of air. Many of the standards relating to purity and equipment efficiency have originated in Europe and subsequently been adopted as ISO norms.

Among the advances being made, a nanotechnology-based hollow fibre filter for contamination removal is currently being assessed as a route to ultra-pure air for high-end applications that cannot economically be addressed by current technologies. This will provide access to new growth areas such as vaccine manufacture, respiratory air supply and oxygen concentrator systems.

The Pneurop Green challenge 2020 is thus providing a good example to other industries, for the benefit of all.

(9) Conclusions

Reviewing the preceding two days, Herbert von Bose, European Commission Director of Industrial Technologies, Research DG, began by thanking the Belgian Presidency for its outstanding organisation of the event, and the speakers for their interesting and stimulating contributions.

'We have been strongly reminded that innovation is crucial, not only to secure Europe's growth, employment and competitiveness, but also to meet the global grand challenges of climate change, an ageing population, health and social inclusion. Moreover, the processes of innovation are becoming increasingly complex, evolving from new product creation, to integrated product-service concepts and completely new business models. Sustainability, in terms of energy-efficiency, resource use and life-cycle performance is now as important a criterion as technological breakthrough.'

Industrial transformation:

Manufacturing is the essential basis of a 'real economy', Von Bose insists; service providers alone will not ensure a strong recovery from the economic crisis. The transformation of European industries into knowledge-based enterprises delivering high added value is the way to overcome cost-based competition from the developing countries, and thus to maintain a high quality of life for EU citizens.

Research under the NMP theme is at the heart of this transformation, but - especially with the emergence of nanotechnologies - its nature is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary and groundbreaking. In today's business environment, results must also be translated more quickly into commercially exploitable products and services, to be faster to market and meet ever-increasing customer expectations.

Multilateral effort:

The scale of effort required clearly demands transnational cooperation at all levels: between the different disciplines of academia; between academia and industry; and between the EU, Member States, regions and the private sector.

There has been much discussion of industry's need for easier access to funding, simpler administrative procedures and a more favourable regulatory framework. The EC has responded to these requests, with increasing budgets for the Framework Programmes and progress in the reduction of bureaucracy.

Just as necessary, however, is a matching commitment by industry to higher levels of private investment. Meeting the target of spending 3 % of GDP on R&D, as reiterated in the Europe 2020 strategy, would enable European researchers to compete more effectively with the strengths of the US and Japan - and also help Europe to attract and retain the brightest talents.

At the same time, full involvement of the academic community is vital, both as the source of new discoveries and as educators of the generations of scientists and technologists who will become the 'knowledge workers' of the future.

Partnership model:

The public-private partnerships set up under the European Economic Recovery Plan have won considerable support as the means to mobilise these resources and involve the stakeholders in aligning research directions with real-world priorities. This model could well be taken up more widely in the future.

'Europe 2020 sets a demanding agenda,' von Bose acknowledges. 'As we look ahead in planning for the forthcoming FP8, Industrial Technologies' collaborative research and innovation will be powerful drivers for its realisation.'

Potential impact:

The specific concept of the project lies in the fact that it addressed:

(1) the interaction, complementarities and synergies between the academic, research and industrial actors operating in the 'sub-themes' of the NMP Theme in FP7;
(2) the 'research for industrial implementation' issue, reinforcing the Manufuture Technology Platforms actions towards industrial impact en reinforcing the launch of the PPP FoF.

This concept, as well as the draft conference programme framework, ensured that this project would have the impact as requested in the work programme:

(1) review of research, industrial and/or societal developments linked to the nanotechno-logy and/or the NMP areas, as appropriate;
(2) sharing of information and comparison of points of views;
(3) support to the activity of various stakeholders: natural scientists, social scientists, ethicists, researchers, industrialists, investors, museums and/or schools.

Common challenges such as environmental and socio-economic sustainability, knowledge-based products and knowledge-based manufacturing, competitiveness were addressed across the NMP areas. These are issues that can only be properly targeted if discussed in a European and global context. The conference stimulated cross-fertilisation by fostering the integration of its three components, including the manufuture community.

The conference programme attracted research organisations, academia, industry (including SMEs) and their representatives or associations, European-national-regional public instances, etc.

It offered a unique opportunity for presenting their views on how to exploit current and implement future research and innovation activities in the area of the nano, material and manufacturing to ensure wealth and employment through these sectors. They shared and compared their opinions, positions during debates and round tables. Project results from European, national and/or regional levels were promoted.

The conference also featured international speakers, putting the European approach in relation to what happens in their continents.

Seizing the opportunity of the calls in FP7 launched around July 2010, a brokerage event was organised. This brokerage gave the floor to stakeholders to present their project ideas, share their points of view, find partners and build consortia for new projects. The brokerage event promoted also the opportunities that would be offered by the FoF initiative, complementing those offered by the NMP programme.

It is worth noting too that the event took place at mid-term of FP7 at a time when results of the ex-post evaluation of the FP6 and of two ex-post NMP studies, at project and programme level, would be available.

The project was one among the many activities for the dissemination of the Manufuture Strategic Research Agenda. Implementation of the Strategic Research Aagenda is crucial for the transformation of European manufacturing industry to knowledge-based, sustainable industries.

The NMP programme and the Manufuture Technology Platform are initiatives with a strong base in the European community. The conference's main purpose was to gather the relevant European communities, thus creating added value to national platforms and programs. The gathering of stakeholders from industry, research and policy makers enabled a qualified discussion on relevant topics. The event also provided an excellent opportunity for the EC to meet these stakeholders and discuss and inform them on topics of high rele-vance at the time of the conference, and to already envisage the highlights for the next Framework Programme (FP8).

This event helped, as regards the NMP programme, to evaluate the state of the affairs concerning integration and, on these lines, to gain a better insight into what should be initiated in the future. As regards manufuture and the FoF PPP, it helped on the one hand to promote and actualise the Factories of the Future work programme and evaluate the state of implementation of this work programme; on the other hand it helped to collect the EU manufacturing industry requirements specific to SMEs and in general the environmental and social issues.

This information contributed to the NMP programme current work in harmonising the three subjects (nano, material and production-integration) and also in preparing the themes and focus of future conferences (Manufuture and other).

The conference constituted of course the crucial dissemination activity of the project. In fact, the combination of an NMP event with a Manufuture event increased the exposure of the respective areas to a wider community of stakeholders. Cross-fertilisation and integration of actions and actors was key in this project.

The conference was the central milestone around which the activities for spreading excellence and disseminating knowledge would be organised. At the conference, the best guarantee for spreading excellence leant heavily on the adequate selection of the invited and contributed speakers and the pertinence of the talks delivered in relation with the conference objectives.

The conference also featured an exhibition offering a wide exposure of research organisations, industrial companies, public services, projects, research programmes to the NMP and Manufuture Technology Platform community.

In order to direct the content and concept of future conferences, a questionnaire was distributed to all participants in the event.

The dissemination activities 'surrounding' the conference are nonetheless also very important. This was primarily be done by using websites and electronic newsletters, through which the conference program, proceedings and synthesis reports were published. Some of this material was also printed. The spreading to the right people of this information guaranteed through the different networks and platforms in the NMP area.

Project website:

The project website is still available on Visitors can find photographs, video, abstracts and presentations of the conference.

For further information, please contact the general secretariat of the Department of Research Programmes (Public Service of Wallonia): +32-813-34532.