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Periodic Report Summary 1 - S_LIFE (European Synergies and Co-operation for Sustainable vehicle along the Life-Cycle)

Project Context and Objectives:

The Transport Industry has been facing worldwide major environmental challenges among which the sustainable use and management of natural resources and wastes. The path to better resource efficiency is challenged by several hurdles and it is critical to develop a more holistic and integrated approach of the entire value chain of the automotive industry.

In front of this situation, a consortium of European clusters has initiated the S_LIFE project in January 2012. This project aims at contributing to a sustainable use and management of natural resources and wastes in the automotive industry by enhancing research & innovation and developing collaboration, synergies and common strategies across Europe.

One particularity of this project is to propose an integrated approach of the entire value chain along the life cycle of the vehicle. Indeed, only such an approach will enable the whole sector to move up a gear in greening its entire life cycle from conception and construction via use, end-of-life and deconstruction to waste valorisation.

S_LIFE main objective is to strengthen the transnational cooperation between regional research clusters of automotive industry by:
• Assessing the capacity of regional clusters in contributing to the development of an integrated value chain for sustainable vehicles
• Defining common research priorities and collaboration strategies in addressing the key challenges
• Organising coherent and structured Regional and European support to conduct research & networks in transport industry to optimize integrated value chain of vehicles
• Strengthening regional and European knowledge skills, infrastructures and research driven clusters via sharing tools, knowledge exchange, build up multidisciplinary bridges
• Setting-up a financial plan to enable the implementation of the S_LIFE Joint Action Plan and provide recommendations for the next financial instruments to policy-makers
• Broadly communicating and disseminating the project outcomes

Project Results:
Considering the wideness of the topic - sustainable use and management of natural resources and wastes - the limits and the scope of the project have been precisely determined since the early stages of the project. This led us to a S_LIFE definition of the “Resource Efficiency” with is limited to “Material efficiency”, energy consumptions not taken into account.

In preamble of the concrete activities, Work Package 1 (Mapping) and Work Package 2 (Joint Action Plan) methodologies were jointly defined in order to better integrate the links and synergies between those 2 Work Packages.
When it comes to methodology, 2 crucial points have to be underlined:
• The choice to combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches. This ensures to consider both European challenges and problems from the field.
• All S_LIFE results were presented, discussed and validated with the S_LIFE Advisory Board (composed of industry, academic and public authorities’ representatives).

In the mapping activities (WP1), those two approaches were translated into a desktop analysis of the literature (top-down) and some interviews of key stakeholders (bottom-up). This resulted in the definition of a list of stakeholders and research infrastructures as well as the establishment of a set of key bottlenecks and challenges to be addressed.
In the meantime, SWOT/SOAR analyses were performed in each S_LIFE region in order to provide a realistic overview of the positioning of each Region, facilitating the benchmarking of all regions towards the others, enabling a smart specialisation within the value chain regarding strengths.
As part of WP1 activities, the S_LIFE consortium also produced a detailed catalogue of existing R&D funding possibilities (public and private) available in Europe and in the partners’ regions.

Based on WP1 results, the objective of WP2 was to setup an EU common strategy in order to reach a better “material efficiency” in the automotive by 2030.

It started with the definition of a shared 2030 Vision based on the results of the mapping activities (interviews, literature, bottlenecks and challenges) and additional meetings with EU key players (several EC DGs, industry associations…). This S_LIFE 2030 Vision Document presents a clear view of the future market expectations by 2030, the key challenges to be addressed in the area of the vehicles Life-cycle and the key drivers for innovation.
In correlation with the Vision Document, a list of prioritised research topics requiring actions has been issued. This S_LIFE Strategic Research Agenda is providing a shared / common agenda of the research and innovation activities needed to meet the objectives stated in the Vision document.

By combining information and data from the Vision Document, the Strategic Research Agenda and the SWOT/SOAR analysis, we established a Joint Action Plan. The Joint Action Plan (JAP) is the key deliverable of the Work Package 2. It combines the regional research agendas into one concrete action plan that covers the entire vehicle chain and makes clear links between the different regional research programs.
The JAP aims at providing a list of common actions for improved collaboration between regional research clusters. The implementation of those actions will represent the major part of the second half of the project (WP3).

Another important part of “Region of Knowledge” projects is the mentoring of less advanced regions. In the first half of the project, we concentrated on the identification of the needs of those less advanced regions. A full mentoring program will be run in the second half of the project.

In the field of the public communication of project outcomes and activities, several actions have been performed: 2 press releases, a public website have been put online (, and the first S_LIFE public conference have been held in Mulhouse (France) from November 12th to November 14th 2012 together with the MOBILIS event.
Potential Impact:
The S_LIFE project will impact the seven instruments of the European Transport Policy. Indeed S_LIFE will offer new systems approach in transport/automotive sector to establish a sustainable automotive sector that meets society’s economic, social and environmental needs, accelerating development of innovative technologies and their efficient applications at regional and EU level boosting competitiveness and growth of market economy while respecting environmental needs for greening the transport sector.

S_LIFE project proposes long term research and innovation driven strategy and Joint Action Plan (JAP, see WP2) to affect long term-change greening the transport/automotive economy, by consolidating efforts, optimising and streamlining activities of all stakeholders, and imposing all elements of sustainability for different actors in the market of the entire value chain for the sustainable vehicles development.

The S_LIFE project should lead to provide and favour new technological partnerships, business opportunities, academic mobility, and cooperation in the field of automotive sector and greening transport economy in Europe through the exchange of information between clusters, cluster members, and regional authorities. This will allow the EU to reach a critical mass of clusters to implement innovative services and tools and provide Professional support to SMEs.

The mapping of existing research capacities in the targeted regions for the identification of common priorities, which is one of the first activities undertaken in S_LIFE, should induce a more efficient use of research capacities through an increased access, cooperation and / or mutualisation of them. This could also drive to a reduction of costs and increased investment in complementary infrastructures.

Stakeholders (public or private) from the network will benefit from new collaborative projects opportunities. Innovative SMEs will more easily access relevant academic researchers in Europe to put potential products/targets on the track to clinical proof of concept and develop European projects. This could also drive to generate more comprehensive and ambitious projects backed by trained managers and efficient support.

The project with its integrated approach to the entire value chain of vehicles will have an enormous impact contributing to the EU transport / automotive policy (including RTD, economy, innovation and regional development) as a whole in terms of existing policy implementation, new policy development and new approach for optimal use of EU research capacities.
Through the cooperation among Regions and the development of a common approach and research agenda, the S_LIFE project should have a strong impact on research capacities, on scientific community, on Policy-makers and on the Regions themselves where the project intends to develop their growth and competitiveness.

Beyond the specific impact of the S_LIFE project on scientific community and policy makers, S_LIFE is expected to have important impact on other key EU economic issues because S_LIFE consortium gathers a big part of the European Original Equipment manufacturers (OEM) as well as collaborates with almost all main EU vehicles manufacturers.
In the field of automotive industry, the value chain is not regional nor national but worldwide. Research stakeholders (and particularly SMEs) currently have many problems to access international markets which are led by the automotive industry. A European approach is therefore necessary to coordinate the research effort in this field and help to structure this very promising market.

S_LIFE will produce recommendations to enhance support on priority areas both at the research and at the economic level (regional and structural funds) which should increase European competitiveness in high-performance priorities, backed by adequate financial instruments (next-generation EU frameworks).

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