The current lack of stability in the markets does not create strong incentives for industry for long term investments in tangible fixed assets, and a quick response to market demand is crucial to market success. At the same a new generation of highly flexible production and process technologies and equipment, such as 3D-printing, has become available, enabling industry to adapt faster to the market demand and to produce in smaller series.
All European companies, especially SMEs, need to have access to technology infrastructure with appropriate manufacturing facilities to help them develop their innovative product-services from the early stage of feasibility assessment up to the fabrication of first series of prototype's products. Purchasing is not always the best option.
It is also important to develop value systems that take into account the new extended supply chain from the early stage of the design process up to the end-of-life activities. In addition, the real production can nowadays take place anywhere in the world and leave Europe with unused or outdated production capacities. The current overall process does not necessarily take into account economic, social and environmental benefits for Europe.
Business models supporting the novel supply chains for innovative product-services would need to facilitate the flow of information on free utilisation capacity among service providers, which could be dedicated business set-ups for that kind of product-services, or just existing manufacturers with free production capacity at certain moments in time and business companies seeking short term solutions for their capacity shortages.
New equipment, internet, digital technologies and social media have the potential to support new supply chain models that are focused on business-to-business (B2B) as well as business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships, on improving the use of manufacturing capacity in Europe.
Solutions should facilitate the flow of information on free manufacturing capacity among service providers (which could be dedicated businesses or existing manufacturers with spare capacity).
The research activities should focus on all of the following areas:
Project activities will focus on new concepts and methodologies for knowledge-based, specialised product-service, which can fulfil the requirements of fast changing markets for innovative product-services. The service could be supplemented by after-sale services and extended guarantees provided by any entity from the supply chain base on common agreement.
Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) elements should be considered, such as economics and business administration. In particular, proposals should address the role of consumers and users as active participants in the innovation process.
Activities are expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 4 to 6. This topic addresses cross-KET activities.
This topic is particularly suitable for SMEs.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.