Added-value manufacturing: a cross-cutting challenge

One of the major challenges defined in the European Innovation Agenda and which also has to be addressed within the framework of Horizon 2020, is the competitiveness of Union Member States on the global market. One of the sectors where the problem is particularly urgent is manufacturing.

Manufacturing in European countries is under considerable strain: increased competition from other developed economies, low cost production in developing countries, and scarcity of raw materials are putting pressure on the European manufacturing companies. Parallel to this, there are further factors driving change in the manufacturing sector: new market and societal needs, rapid advances in science and technology, environmental and sustainability requirements.

One possible answer to address these challenges is the development of a "high value (or added-value) manufacturing" industry. This concept defines an integrated system including the whole cycle of production, distribution and end-of life treatment of goods and products/services applying a customer/user driven innovation system. Rather than competing primarily on cost, added value manufacturers deliver value by delivering product/service innovation, establishing process excellence, achieving high brand recognition and/or contributing to a sustainable society.

The manufacturing sector is of considerable economic, social and environmental significance. In 2010 the manufacturing sector accounted for 15,4 % of the Union's GDP and over 33 million jobs. This figure increases to 37 % if power generation, construction, and associated business services are included. At the same time, manufacturing also contributed to about 25 % of the waste, 23 % of greenhouse gases and 26 % of NOx generated in Europe.

Bearing this in mind, it is quite clear that the overall objectives in the field of manufacturing must be increased competitiveness of Europe within the global market as well as the development of more sustainable and environment friendly manufacturing processes.

Expected Impact

A KIC on added-value manufacturing will help meeting Horizon 2020 priorities in terms of advanced manufacturing and processing, and its specific objective of "transforming today's industrial forms of production towards more knowledge intensive, sustainable, low-emission, trans-sectoral manufacturing and processing technologies, to realise innovative products, processes and services".

It will be able to mobilise investment and long-term commitment from the business sector, and to expand and create new markets. It could have in particular a function in supporting the actions defined in the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Technology Platform (ETP) "Manufuture":

  • Eco-design;
  • Development of added-value products and services;
  • Development of new business models;
  • Development of advanced manufacturing engineering processes;
  • New emerging manufacturing sciences and technologies;
  • Transformation of existing research and education infrastructures to support world-class manufacturing.

Whilst supporting the development of new products, services, business models and manufacturing processes, emphasis should be put on sustainability and eco-innovation, with the reduction of resource and energy inefficiencies, maximising positive environmental impacts, but also contributing to strengthening positive economic and social impacts. Concretely, such clean approach will imply energy and material efficient processes and machinery, the use of renewable power sources, and/or the employment of smart energy management, leading thus to significant reductions of waste and emissions. By contributing to the development and deployment of more sustainable, resource-efficient and competitive manufacturing, a KIC would be able to trigger industry and consumers behavioural change and to create systemic impact.

A KIC on added-value manufacturing could also have a very important role and impact at regional level: Fostering the creation of interconnected regional clusters with local transfers and collaboration, developing competences in high-end manufacturing technologies, and developing excellence in manufacturing technologies would be the key missions of a KIC at regional level. In this connection, specific attention could be given to those regions more affected by declining manufacturing capacity as well as to SMEs.

One of the major challenges for reaching the above aims is the availability of a highly qualified workforce which is sufficient in quality as well as in numbers. A KIC would therefore have a very important role to play in re-shaping the education landscape in this field. By creating closer links between skills demanders and education providers, a KIC would promote joint post-graduate degrees, post-graduate professional training and industrial "real-life" courses.

Capacity-building will be also a central element of a KIC in added-value manufacturing. This concerns not only the supply of high qualified work force, but also the possibility of establishing the KIC as a forum for interaction and promotion of cross-disciplinary skills and competences, particularly for the combination of multiple key enabling technologies as proposed by the High-Level Group on Key Enabling Technologies (KETs)1 .

A KIC on this area will have the potential to bring together different actors and stakeholders in this very transdisciplinary sector, including key upstream and downstream parts of the value chain. This includes processing industries (e.g. steel or chemicals) which are immediately linked with the value chain for added-value manufacturing.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • International cooperation
  • Socio-economic science and humanities
  • Open Science
  • Cross-cutting Key-Enabling Technologies (KETs)
  • Open Innovation
Application date
Social sciences : Management and Public administration, Economy