EU Industry days 2019: A Competitive European Eco System for R&D, digitalization and innovation

The importance of the Public Private Partnerships, PPP, model to support industrial transformation, innovation and competitiveness was the focus of a well attended seminar during the European Industry Days on 5-6 February 2019.

The seminar was organised by the Association of Swedish Technology Industries, Teknikföretagen, in close cooperation with the Swedish Strategic Innovation Program, Production 2030 and EFFRA, the European Factories of the Future Research Association.

The panel included:

– Harri Kulmala, CEO of DIMECC, Finland
– Joaquim Menezes (IBEROMOLDES) – Chairman EFFRA
– Silvia de la Maza, Technical Manager Innovalia, Spain
– Johan Harvard, deputy director, Ministry of Industry
– Botond Kadar, senior researcher at Computer and Automation Institute, Hungary
Academy of Sciences Hungary

Cecilia Warrol, program manager at Produktion2030, moderated the discussion and opened the seminar by asking about challenges around the PPP model when it comes to setting a common agenda.

Harri Kulmala said that the biggest challenge in this type of model is to achieve continuity  after a project has finished. There is also a communicative challenge to target a broad group and at the same time focus on concrete results from the collaboration so that it captures the interest of companies.

The panel discussed about the importance of the PPP model to support a sustainable development in the EU member states and regions. This is an excellent model to enable collaboration between small and large companies.

To attract more small and medium-sized companies in to this type of collaboration, projects must be relatively close to commercialization. This in turn places high demand on contract agreements, since the collaboration can easily involve sensitive material.
The panel agreed that it is important with heterogeneous groups as the level of innovation is high and that such groups can be cross-linked. The PPP model is an enabler for more heterogeneous groupings, which in turn leads to market-related innovations.

Silvia de la Maza emphasized the importance of setting up a system and gudielines how to further explore the results developed by frontrunner companies. In a second phase, these results can transferred to companies outside the projects with a risk to fall behind.

The PPP model has served as an open platform for ten years and Cecilia Warrol asked whether we have managed to include the right players during this time? Joaquim Menezes said that we have created a solid base. Johan Harvard believed that companies lagging behind are an important target group to focus on for the future. There are many companies that lack sufficient capacity when it comes to innovation and digitization and therefore lag behind in the digital transformation.

Botond Kadar told the audience that Hungary has national program for lagging companies. They can visit factories that are at the forefront and participate in workshops and trainings to take part of the digital transformation. The panel discussed that the geographical diversity and spread of companies can create fragmentation and that it is therefore important to increase collaboration and raise awareness through good ambassadors.

The panel agreed that there is no simple solution, it requires commitment to create new solutions and innovations. There is not only one model that suits everyone, so that the PPP concept must be flexible in order to reach out, get engagement and develop fruitful cooperations, depending on the challenge to solve. It is important that the actors involved in projects are strongly committed to succeed and therefore participate actively.

The speakers agreed that the European Commission, national and regional public entities have an incredibly important role in stimulating and accelerating innovation. The model has, through successful projects, supported competitiveness in industry.

The message to the European Commission is that the PPP model must continue to develop in the nextcoming period to create even more commitment among stakeholders and thus, lead to clear results. So far, the PPP model has been the key to successful collaboration between different types of actors and made a significant difference for European companies’ competitiveness.