To support the transformation of the manufacturing industry in Flanders required to fully embrace the opportunities and challenges offered by Digitization and the Industry 4.0 agenda, the Strategic Research Center “Flanders Make” was established in 2014, supported by the Flemish government. This physical Center brings together Academia, Research Centers and Industry to implement a jointly defined strategic roadmap for research, innovation and industrial uptake in the field of product design and product manufacturing. Flanders Make consists of a unique combination of an “Intra-Muros” capacity for applied and transformational research and a “Virtual Department“ consisting of a number of leading Flemish academic laboratories, which together with industry partners execute projects of different types (including Strategic Basic and Industrial Cooperative).
The roadmap definition and the project implementation are supervised and validated by both an Industrial and a Scientific Advisory Board while IP principles are discussed and agreed in an IP board.
KU Leuven was one of the co-founding partners of Flanders Make and leads key roadmaps while Siemens Industry Software (SISW) has been a driving industry member from the first hour and involved in several of the identified strategic innovation lines. These two partners together create both a platform and bring own expertise.
STAGE 1 - STRATEGY:
Definition/update of the global vision and strategy of the Research Centre. Validation by the International Scientific and Industrial Advisory Board.
STAGE 2 - DEFINITION OF MAIN TECHNOLOGY ROADMAPS
Definition/update – by all stakeholders – of the main technology roadmaps. Intensive consultations with all stakeholders take place and proposals are iterated and consolidated in joint workshops.
STAGE 3 - SELECTION OF RESEARCH TOPICS:
Staged process to propose, develop and select concrete research topics for implementation in projects (with subsequent reviews by stakeholders, management board, funding agency). Dedicated consultations and workshops take place per roadmap and per gate in the Stage Gate process.
STAGE 4 - PROJECT EXECUTION:
Execution of the selected research projects.
STAGE 5 - PROJECT FINALIZATION:
Finalization of the research projects with specific attention on valorization perspectives and required follow-up actions.
STAGE 6 - PROJECT DISSEMINATION:
Dissemination of the – open part of the – research results to the broader (industrial) community.
STAGE 7 - IMPROVEMENT:
Evaluation of the processes as well as roadmaps in view of future improvement and adaption.
TOUCHPOINT 1 - PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL CONSULTATIONS
Physical individual consultations with the involved stakeholders. Mainly physical; of course from time to time some virtual consultations take place (online surveys)
TOUCHPOINT 2 - WORKSHOPS
Research roadmap workshops. Project proposal workshops (per Gate in the Stage Gate process) to come to a common project definition endorsed by the involved academic, research and industry partners.
The key success factors are the identification of common technology innovation needs for a whole industrial sector (Flemish Manufacturing Industry with all stakeholders) and the pooling of available innovation and research capacity among a variety of academic, RTO and industrial research laboratories to address these needs through a structured research roadmap. The complexity and multi-disciplinary nature of the problems posed by the manufacturing industry make it impossible for a single research team to address the required innovation challenges. Cooperation between complementary competences as well as along the value chain from basic research to industrial deployment allows to develop, implement and validate breakthrough solutions previously impossible.
A first barrier challenging industry-academia cooperation is related to the different time horizon pursued by the various actors. This makes that the industrial support to generic long term basic research is often not easy to obtain as the outcome seems still too far away for solving the daily concerns while the need to extend research trajectories to address short term industrial deployment needs is not always put as a priority in the academic research. By being together in the intensive roadmapping and programme discussions and understanding each other’s agenda’s and concerns, this gap however gets narrowed down.
Overall, the experiences of cooperating in the context of Strategic Research Centres or Advanced Research Clusters are very positive for KU Leuven and Siemens Industry Software. Pooling competencies across various complementary fields and sharing research needs between different companies, possibly also along the value chain, allow to unleash innovation power and realize innovations not possible stand-alone or by pure bilateral cooperation.
- Respect each other’s DNA and KPI’s, including the IP concerns of the various stakeholders.
- Be sufficiently open in sharing roadmaps and research needs as the leveraging power largely outweighs the potentially competitive concerns.
- Lose view on addressing the long term research needs by focusing too much on short term industrial deployments, the research partners should not become/be expected to become a service organization helping out in daily problems but have to enable the long term breakthroughs.
- For the research partners: don’t lose the view on the need to eventually realize socio-economic added value through the innovations.