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Vanguard Initiative pilot project on New nano-enabled Products

Vanguard Initiative pilot project on New nano-enabled Products

The Vanguard Initiative (VI) pilot project on New Nano-Enabled Products was initiated by the Skåne region in spring 2015 and is co-led by Skåne and Tampere. A kick-off meeting was held in June 2015 in which 12 VI regions and their nano experts participated. The European Commission was also present.

The goal of the first meeting was to learn more about each participating region, in particular their strengths and focus areas within the field of nanotechnology. Furthermore, the meeting also discussed the mapping exercise that will be carried out to help identify existing and missing value chains within nanotechnology across Europe. Based on these findings, the pilot project aims to build concrete joint demonstration cases in which regions can intensify collaboration.

The results of this mapping exercise were presented during a second meeting on 22 October 2015. The objective of the meeting was twofold: first to present and discuss the outcome of the mapping exercise, and secondly to expand on potential areas for joint demonstration cases.

The participating regions identified four, possibly six, cases for joint demonstration activities:

  • Nanowires for ICT and energy applications
  • Integrated nano-bio systems - pilot production of nano-materials
  • Printed nano-electronics

Click here for the minutes of the second plenary meeting.


The EU should be a world leader in bringing nanotechnology R&D to market through pilot line production. This requires the creation of an industrial eco-system within nanotechnology, enabling new value chains to emerge. Uniting relevant companies across different industries will help to bring advanced technologies to market. The EU’s regions have the resources to create new value chains across Europe by combining their technical strengths in universities, institutes and R&D laboratories; with related pilot production facilities; and with companies from different industries which share an interest in the possibilities that nanotechnology could bring, e.g. the synthesis of nano-materials and nano-components with corresponding technical applications in areas such as green energy, electronics, catalysis, LEDs, sensors, composites and biomedicine.

European Commission President Juncker stated in his investment package that Europe needs to build industry’s weight back to 20% of the EU’s GDP, from less than 16% today. The Commission has also emphasised the global economic potential in the industrial uptake of key enabling technologies (KETs). The industrial policy flagship initiative ‘A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ states that “Europe is a global leader in R&D for KETs, with a global patent share of more than 30%. However, in the past the EU has often been slower than our trading partners in converting research into marketable goods and services.”

Parallel to the European ambition of bringing KETs to industry, one of the key priorities of the Innovation Union and the subsequent Horizon 2020 programme is to address the whole innovation chain of technology-readiness levels, spanning the crucial range of medium to high levels preceding mass production, and helping to bridge the gaps (often referred to as the ‘valley of death’) in this range.

In some areas, such as innovative nano-materials, there are clear similarities across Europe’s regions. By connecting those regions and actors which have similar gaps to fill, Europe could make better use of existing and future investments in the field and take additional steps towards world leadership within the field of nanotechnology. This is a matter of upscaling regional smart specialisation strategies to an interregional level, supported by co-investment at regional, national and EU level.  

Nanotechnology may very well form the basis for the next industrial revolution. It currently underpins many practical applications and has the potential to further enhance quality of life and environmental protection. Applications can be found everywhere, such as in clothing, cars, windows, computers, displays, cosmetics and medicine with new functionalities, intelligence, portability, and networking capability in many new products with high market potential.

Nanotechnology is the key to markets worth billions of euros annually. This broad application area makes a clear case for extra efforts to boost the advanced manufacturing of innovative nano-materials.

Many regions in Europe have strong academic and industrial R&D in innovative materials. Some also have research infrastructures, both in terms of minor advanced laboratory facilities and large-scale research facilities, such as synchrotron particle accelerators.

Several regions in the EU maintain varying types of industries that could be suitably connected in terms of developing their business models with new innovative materials. A number of different industries – both traditional and non-traditional – could therefore potentially benefit from innovative nano-materials.

To fully explore this potential, however, there must be collaboration across Europe. By pooling resources and efforts, and by connecting regional strengths to create a strong European industrial fabric within nanotechnology, new value chains will emerge within the realms of innovative nano-materials.

This would require linking European R&D and laboratory infrastructure with different types of industries. The VI regions are a unique base for such an ambition. 

VI pilot project on New Nano-Enabled Products kick-off meeting in Brussels, 23 June 2015.


Leading Regions  
Skåne Region Tampere Region
Participating Regions  
Asturias (ES) Norte (PT)
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (FR) North Rhine-Westphalia (DE)
Baden-Württemberg (DE) Skåne (SE)
East-Netherlands (NL) South-Netherlands (NL)
Emilia-Romagna (IT) Tampere (FI)
Flanders (BE) Wales (GB)
Navarra (ES) Walonia (BE)
Michael Johnsson, Michael.johnsson [at]