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Project Context and Objectives:
Project context and main objectives.

EXPLORE aims at unleashing the full potential of the knowledge accumulated in EU funded R&D projects in the domain of Production Technologies. The project promotes and supports the industrial exploitation of R&D results, mainly by disseminating (models, case studies, demonstrators) and preparing its commercial exploitation, promoting cross-fertilisation, stimulating education and fostering standardisation. The goal is to promote the use of this knowledge and specific R&D results to develop advanced products and services to address manufacturing industries' challenges and needs. The test-bed is settled in 17 Regions across Europe, involving 11 Industrial Sectors.
Such challenges call for different stakeholders gathering complementary knowledge, competences and resources, such as:
• exploitable results of European R&D projects
• sectorial challenges and needs
• national/regional, private/public funding sources
• and a broad European network of partners

EXPLORE’s main objectives are the following:
• Disseminate the available knowledge, R&D results and existing applications
• Develop a conceptual framework and ICT platform able to promote and support further industrial exploitation of existing results from European R&D projects
•Test and demonstrate this framework using a selected group of at least 10 industrial sectors and 10 European regions
• Promote cross-fertilization, training and standardization
• Support the creation of an European network of demonstrators and pilot lines
• Generate recommendations for future projects and activities

The EXPLORE Project Concept
The starting point of EXPLORE are the results from European R&D Projects in the field of production technologies, with industrial exploitation potential. The link to selected European Regions and Industrial Sectors and their relation with relevant technological domains, allows the project to understand the potential of R&D results in industry and to select the most promising ones for each region and sector. This will enable the project to promote focused matchmaking events throughout Europe aiming at the identification of opportunities for further exploitation, cross-fertilization and implementation of new demonstrators and pilot lines based on such results. One of the key aspects is the horizontal character of production technologies, allowing its application in different industrial sectors (Fig. 1).
EXPLORE has developed an Innovation and Exploitation Platform that supports the whole process of identification and selection of results, matchmaking, and decision-making. Also the digital Exploitation Handbook provides guidance in the exploitation process of new production technologies.
The EXPLORE project aims at promoting an innovation ecosystem composed by industrial companies, technology companies, R&D organizations and the public system. It comprises the end-users, as they are key actors for the uptake of those technologies and close the loop for the research system in terms of innovation needs leading to new R&D results. In Picture 3 the EXPLORE core ecosystem or community is composed of the project consortium and the selected Strategic Partners.
The project Portal supports the management of the consortium and project activities, including the communication and networking mechanisms, together with information exchange, dissemination and management.
The Innovation and Exploitation Platform is an intelligent information management system that goes beyond a simple database of available production technologies, towards a decision support system for potential exploitation paths detection and matchmaking.
The Exploitation Handbook provides guidance related with the exploitation of new production technologies.
The Education and Training Programmes aim to improve the knowledge and skills of the actors involved in the exploitation process.

Project Results:
The project first year was characterized by an intense activity setting the ground and developing the tools to support the process of exploitation of R&D results. Therefore, the project first 12 months were very demanding, challenging, but also rewarding. The developed activities and results achieved include:
• Quantitative and qualitative information from and about the Regions that confirmed their interest in being part of the EXPLORE network was collected and analysed (the quantitative information include statistical socio-economical information related to manufacturing and the qualitative information is related with innovation and funding programmes). During this time, the number of regions committed to participate in the EXPLORE network increased from the initial 13 (at proposal stage) to 17 at this stage (see attached table with involved regions).
• Information from and about the target manufacturing sectors: statistical characterization to assess their relevance was collected and analysed (economical data, innovation investment, etc.), and the main innovation needs and challenges were identified (see attached table with involved sectors).
• A cross-sectorial analysis of those innovation needs and challenges was done, towards the identification and characterization of the target innovation domains.
• The target 18 innovation domains were defined. This definition was done considering the 15 innovation domains identified in the previous steps, detailed research and an intersectorial workshop (see list attached).
• An initial set of clustering recommendations for future policy making, related with Regions, sectors and exploitable results were proposed.
• The Exploitation framework was designed. The framework specifies the project conceptual and methodological approach covering the complete life cycle of the R&D results. Specifies the methodological approach and the activities such as identification of R&D results for market exploitation, matchmaking activities, technology transfer negotiation, etc.
• Design and development of the Innovation and Exploitation Platform, aiming to support the project framework, related activities, materials, and services.
• Identification and characterization of 51 exploitable results from European R&D projects in the production technologies domain.
• Broad and intense dissemination and communication:
o Definition of the dissemination and communication strategy, logo, identity, tools and means (such as a leaflet and the website).
o Project presence and/or presentations in numerous events, seminars, meetings, initiatives, such as the WMF2014, ITC2014, the PPP Info Days, INCOMERA project meeting, SPIRE PPP, VANGUARD initiative, among many others.

The identified innovation domains are:

1. Energy efficiency
2. Robotics
3. Material processing
4. Additive manufacturing
5. Smart and flexible manufacturing
6. Green processes
7. Surface technologies
8. Mechatronics / factory automation
9. Digital manufacturing
10. Non Destructive Testing
11. Advanced materials manufacturing
12. Customization
13. Assembly and disassembly
14. E-manufacturing
15. Life cycle management.
16. Strategy and technology
17. Human centered manufacturing
18. Networks
Potential Impact:
EXPLORE believes that numerous companies and sectors can benefit from the results of European R&D by supporting their innovation towards new products, services, processes and business models.
The importance of EXPLORE is perceived by a wide range of stakeholders, from companies (including SMEs), research and innovation institutions to regional, sectorial and industry representatives in Europe.
The following are the project main expected results and indicators:
• 50 exploitable R&D results evaluated, clustered, validated, and published in the Innovation and Exploitation Platform (IEP)
• 20 Regional matchmaking events
• 15 Exploitation agreements or contracts for further exploitation of R&D results
• Exploitation Handbook
• Roadmap for implementing 5 Demonstrators and Pilot Lines
• Report on gap analysis and recommendations

Major expected impacts:

Promoting further exploitation of existing R&D results
EXPLORE supports further exploitation of existing R&D results, by:
• Match “technology offer”, “industry needs”, and funding to get a win-win-win situation for the owners of research results, new applicants for exploitation, and public authorities
• One-stop-agencies to simplify access and support the administrative needs of potential users, especially SMEs. Includes the availability of contractual models and templates, and IPR management (via Exploitation Handbook)
Such methodologies and initiatives will unleash, validate, and demonstrate to industrial communities, the exploitation potential of horizontal enabling production technologies and encourage its cross fertilization.

Developing networks and alliances for further R&D and industrial innovation
The EXPLORE ecosystem concept, the project structure and its consortium have been drawn to achieve an added value from the synergy of project beneficiaries, strategic and associated partners, sectorial entities, regional authorities and funding agencies, to mobilize and involve companies in both mature and emerging sectors.
Connections between these partners and major stakeholders in the manufacturing field prepare the ground for cross fertilization and for new application areas. Close collaboration with relevant sectorial organizations and regional funding agencies is promoted.
A better alignment and coordination between European and National and Regional programmes and funds is also expected.

Added value beyond the R&D projects original scope
EXPLORE takes R&D results one step ahead, by an active disseminating and matchmaking that will promote the use of the exploitable results and stimulate cross fertilization initiatives. New projects may be promoted to address the requirements of other sectors and SMEs.
Collected outcomes and conclusions will be collected, highlighting gaps, barriers and opportunities in the exploitation process (education and training needs, standardization, R&D and innovation policies, and funding programmes).

Identify opportunities and design future large-scale demonstration and pilot line activities
EXPLORE will identify opportunities for the implementation of 5 large-scale demonstrators in different European regions and will define the respective implementation roadmaps.
Companies, particularly SMEs, will have the chance to combine and integrate research results in broad and diversified application environments, aiming to demonstrate its application and real benefits and by this to promote its fast adoption and diffusion.
A European Network of mid and large-scale Demonstrators and Pilot-lines on Advanced Production Technologies will be promoted.

Benefits for SMEs
Since SMEs have unique requirements and often cannot find on the market solutions compatible with their resources, they are special beneficiaries of EXPLORE. EXPLORE can support SMEs is finding relevant technologies and identify business, research and funding partners to customize and further develop R&D results to address their needs. Can also support SMEs in exploiting and demonstrate the technologies they develop.

List of Websites: