Thursday, 9 October 2014

MatVal: Concrete Actions from Closing Conference

On 30 September 2014 the MatVal FP7 project held its closing conference as part of the major European Commission LETS 2014 event in Bologna, Italy. The conference brought together policymakers, R&D experts, material manufacturers and end users under a unifying theme - 'Shaping the future of Europe’s Materials research and innovation through a value chain approach' - to explore how materials R&D in Europe can be more innovation focus, be clustered along the value chain and create strong partnerships in the overall European materials community.

Materials research and innovation is a technology area that affects almost every industrial sector. Starting in 2012, MatVal (a value chain approach to materials research & innovation) has worked to identify the success and failure factors in this area. This two-year FP7 project was initiated by the Alliance for Materials (A4M) that brings together major European Technology Platforms (industry-led) and materials research societies (Academia-led) involved in materials research and innovation activities in Europe.

Roadmap
Working initially with the technology platform’s roadmaps and the materials research agendas of different industry sectors it was clear that the value-chain concept was widely recognised and used and the integration of the manufacturing aspects for a material has to be an integral part of any materials research agenda. Other factors identified included the importance of regulations, the need for coherent long-term visions and road-maps (technology planning), and the rising importance of recycling issues.

The project has identified a number of key findings in materials research for innovation including some issues in the working relationships between industry and academia and how to resolve them. Aspects of public funding for materials research and innovation have also been identified; in particular the need for continuity of funding of projects. In addition there is a need to establish a ‘common house’ to continue the work of MatVal in facilitating interaction between industry and the materials research community in Europe.


Speaking at the conference, MatVal project co-ordinator Dr Marco Falzetti (above), Manager of EU Research Affairs at Centro Sviluppo Materiali, said: “this conference is the public closure event of the MatVal project and a crucial moment to discuss the achievements and the future actions needed to ensure the continuity of the groundwork laid for the construction of a unified policy on Materials R&D as real enabler of the European industrial renaissance, through its promotion of jobs, growth and competitiveness.”


Opening the conference Clara de la Torre (above) Director of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation said that: "Advanced materials was one of the six key enabling technologies supported and promoted by the Commission that were essential for competitiveness and growth." She looked forward to MatVal's conclusions to reduce fragmentation of European research efforts and reduce resource waste and its suggestions for prioritisation of future projects.

Main findings
The main findings from the project were presented by Michal Basista (research aspects), Lutz Walter (innovation aspects) and SusChem co-ordinator Jacques Komornicki (the Strategic Report document).

One of the key findings in materials research for innovation relate to issues in the working relationships between industry and academia and how to resolve them. Aspects of public funding for materials research and innovation have also been identified - in particular the need for continuity of funding of projects. These findings support the need to establish a ‘common house’ to continue the work of MatVal in facilitating interaction between industry and the materials research community in Europe. A follow-on project is being formulated.

On the innovation side, it is recommended that high tech materials be supported through public funding on a continuous base – this is pulled directly by high-tech markets with an immediate need of these materials (e.g. aerospace) with the vision that other markets will benefit from these materials at a later stage. This can be facilitated by some efficient technology transfer structures.

For smart materials market needs, performance/cost ratios and time-to market are key success factors with strong collaboration within the value-chain vital. Manufacturing aspects are very important and public-private partnerships oriented towards value-chain innovation can offer good support.

The event was rounded up with a panel discussion moderated by SusChem Blog Editor Tim Reynolds involving Gernot Klotz of Cefic and SusChem, Fabrice Stassin of EMRI, Matteo Santin, President of the European Society for Biomaterials, Mike Clinch of LUXFER cylinders and Jean-Pierre Birat, General Secretary of the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP).

A comprehensive conclusions report from the project of the project will be published in the near future and will shape future European initiatives in materials research and innovation – a key enabler for sustainable competitive growth. For more information, please visit the MatVal website.

LETS contributions
SusChem and SPIRE were also featured in the main LETS (Leading Enabling Technologies for Societal Challenges) conference programme in Bologna.


Loredana Ghinea (above), executive director of A.SPIRE the industry body supporting the SPIRE PPP, spoke about this cross-sectorial initiative for resource and energy efficiency in the session on 'New industrial networks based on cross-cutting technologies.'


While Gernot Klotz (above, right) of SusChem made a number of contributions in his role as Chairman of the Horizon 2020 Advisory Group for Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Advanced Manufacturing and Processing (NMBP) including the session entitled on 'From science to market through FET (Future and Emerging Technologies), KET and more.'

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