Businesses, innovation intermediaries and knowledge institutes jointly explore business opportunities for Europe’s industry of tomorrow

Businesses, innovation intermediaries and knowledge institutes jointly explore business opportunities for Europe’s industry of tomorrow

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 09:00

Over 400 businesses, innovation intermediaries and knowledge institutes came together on Thursday 25 February in Brussels to explore business opportunities in fields important to European industry. Participants engaged in the development of demonstration business cases in the following areas:

Through a personalised matchmaking programme, participants were given access to new business partners in the above-mentioned fields. This event was organised by the Vanguard Initiative, a European network of 30 industrial regions seeking to speed up the market uptake of new technologies through the establishment of industry-led, cross-regional joint demonstration platforms. Pilot projects were set up in these fields by the network during 2014 and 2015, and this event was the first time that the wide range of stakeholders had gathered for one and the same occasion. Most the participants came from companies seeking business opportunities for increasing the market uptake of new technologies. They came from regions across Europe and ranged from small innovative SMEs to large companies seeking new solutions to pressing industrial challenges.

Yves Van Ingelgem from the Flemish company Zensor said:
“The Vanguard Initiative helps us discover that there are a lot of interesting things going on all over Europe. There is a lot of potential for collaboration so the Vanguard Initiative Matchmaking Event is perfect for that.”

During 30 parallel sessions, the development of concrete demonstration cases was discussed and issues such as regional funding and intellectual property rights were addressed. The topics ranged from bio-aromatics and bio-gas to 3D-printed hybrid materials for cars and printed nano-electronics. The sessions attracted a wide range of business stakeholders. Furthermore, over 150 bilateral meetings took place between potential partners who were exploring business opportunities during the event.

Bruno Garavelli, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the company X-Next from Lombardy commented:
“The Vanguard Initiative can bring a lot to our organisation. The network provides a good platform for validation of our technology. At the same time, I am confident that our technology, which is a key enabling technology, can be very useful for the pilot projects.” 

The matchmaking event was made possible by the European Commission and organised under the flag of the South-Netherlands Vanguard Initiative chairmanship.

Bert Pauli, Regional Minister, Province of Noord-Brabant, South-Netherlands said:
“Bigger and smaller businesses, intermediaries, knowledge institutes and EU institutions are our most important international network partners. To valorise new chances that arise for the global economy, international cooperation is crucial. Today’s Matchmaking Event offered a great opportunity. We worked on this important cooperation en strengthened the Vanguard Initiative.”

During both the matchmaking event plenary session and the Vanguard Initiative annual political meeting on 24 February, the European Commission expressed strong support for the network and its methodology aiming to unlock the potential of Europe’s industry. Keynote speaker Ms. Christ’l Joris, president of both ETAP and of AGORIA, elaborated on the challenges posed by modernising European industry and the Vanguard Initiative’s unique contribution to this. The event also proved that challenges remain on the road to achieving new value chains. She also commented that this matchmaking event was an important step towards a European industrial