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Networking of materials laboratories and innovation actors in various industrial sectors for product or process innovation

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Reducing time to market for innovative products

There are disparities between the creative design of products that satisfy market needs and the research and development of new materials to be used in such products. An EU initiative helped bridge this gap.

Industrial Technologies

To deal with these differences, the EU-funded INNOMATNET (Networking of materials laboratories and innovation actors in various industrial sectors for product or process innovation) project aimed to bring together a broad range of stakeholders and introduce support tools and networking and training actions. Overall, the goal was to create new alliances between materials researchers and the creative industries and enable these actors in the innovation chain to commercialise new products and processes. Work began with the identification of key stakeholders in materials and design research in Europe. A questionnaire mapped their needs by gathering feedback on the drivers and barriers of innovation and tools used to facilitate innovation. The questionnaire also generated proposals from materials researchers and industrial entrepreneurs on best practices that accelerate design and commercialisation of innovative products and services that make the most of new materials. As a result, five case studies of global best practices were identified concerning the integration of materials technology and design to improve innovation. A series of 10 one-day networking and training workshops were organised across the EU that attracted over 500 key stakeholders. Two two-day summer schools targeted students, young researchers and engineers. To facilitate networking, a searchable database was set up that includes 335 stakeholders comprised of respondents as well as participants in the projects initiatives, such as workshops and summer schools. The project website disseminated all project activities and outcomes and serves as a platform for networking of European materials researchers, industrial entrepreneurs and other relevant actors. In addition, a materials competition for young researchers and practitioners was held to stress the importance of collaboration between materials researchers and the creative industries. Lastly, a green paper was produced that provides recommendations to support collaboration between materials researchers and the creative industries. Thanks to INNOMATNET, materials technologies can be brought to market more quickly and effectively. It also helps meet the EU vision for an innovation society.

Keywords

Innovative products, new materials, innovation actors, process innovation, commercialisation, creative industries

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2 October 2020