FIBREMAP Case

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The FIBREMAP project case (http://fibremap.eu/)

This case illustrates quite well the success factor 'Market aspects: The organisations that will commercialise the project results have been clearly identified'.

Description of the Product

The key exploitation result of the Fibremap project is the “Inspection Robot”. The “Inspection Robot” is a robotic system for the automatic scanning of carbon fibre parts to obtain a dense mapping of fibre orientations on the whole part. The robotic system can be easily integrated with the production line, allowing 100% inspection. The programming of the inspection cycle is performed offline, automatically computing the inspection path starting from 3D CAD data of the product. The sensor (“FScan”) for fibre orientation measurement is mounted on a robot manipulator, increasing the flexibility to deal with different complex shaped parts within the same system.

Challenges for exploitation

The key problem, which is quite typical for collaborative research projects, is that the main exploitable result requires contributions of several partners. Additionally, the consortium did not include a system integrator, who is building robotic workcells. Consequently, several questions had to be addressed by the consortium:

How can our customer buy the FibreMap product(s)?

The main exploitable developments for the inspection robot have been made by 3 parties in the FibreMap project: IT+Robotics: coverage planning, motion planning, workcell simulation; Profactor: FScan sensor hardware, image acquisition, fibre angle measurement; UNIPD: synchronisation, fibre mapping. Buying the components from three different organisations is not very attractive for a system integrator, considering the many interfaces between the components and the fact that there is not a single point of contact for the FibreMap technologies. It could be necessary to have a single organisation that acts as the single point of contact, provides first level support to the customer and sells the products to the customer.

How do we address the market for the FibreMap product(s)?

While the system integrators will be the main customers, it cannot be expected that they will approach the consortium because they want to develop a robotic fibre angle measurement system. System integrators make developments for a specific end-user. Their developments are tailored to specific requirements and are done on the basis of projects (not products). It is also important to understand that the system integrator(s) will not act as the main sales force for the FibreMap technology.

Marketing obviously has to focus first on the end users to make sure that specifications defined by the end users can be met by the FibreMap technologies. Also during the sales process it will be important to stay in touch with the end user, even though we do not directly sell the whole system to the end user.

At the second level it might be important to disseminate the information about the FibreMap product among system integrators as widely as possible. In case they happen to receive a request for a fibre angle measurement system, they should be aware of FibreMap.

Which regional market can/should we address?

Even though the system will be built by a third party (system integrator), that sells it to the end user, some kind of support from the FibreMap partners will be needed. This will also include on-site support, especially during installation. To allow reasonable exploitation at least Europe has to be considered as a market. However, many of the European end-users will be large companies (automotive, aerospace), who are running production lines anywhere in the world. It has to be ensured that the partnership, including the system integrator, is able to support such installations worldwide.

Marketing, however, should initially focus on Europe.

Who should be the “face to the customer”?

A single point of contact will ideally be needed. This is also necessary to avoid situations that a customer or end-user is first contacted by organisation A and then handed over to organisation B during the sales process. This could be disturbing for the customer. Also, this single point of contact needs to be the main FibreMap sales force on the market, focussing particularly on selling the FibreMap results (in contrast to selling FibreMap as one product among others). It needs to be discussed which resources are needed for this purpose.

 

Consequences for the Exploitation Strategy

  • A single point of contact has to be defined including a sales person, who will be the main face to the customers during the whole sales process.
  • Defining the detailed marketing strategy is then the task of this single point of contact, other partners should help.
  • Marketing and dissemination activities should focus first on the end users, through personal contacts established by the sales person.
  • Dissemination should focus on system integrators, through fairs, technical journals and presentations at various events.

Most of these strategic aspects would suggest creating a start-up company that is taking care of the exploitation.

Issues that were considered in relation to whether a new company should be setup:

  • Partners are already known at relevant end users, a new company would need to start “from scratch” or at least require additional explanation, which will create a barrier when addressing potential customers.
  • For applied research organisation there is a growing pressure to finance their activities with industry. Creating a start-up would take away some of the potential business and thus create difficulties for the research organisation.
  • Some of the research organisations are (partially) publicly owned which creates additional problems when becoming (co-)owner of a new start-up.
  • The strength of presenting a new technology on the market is higher if it is done by a single company as compared to multiple organisations, who each offer only a particular component.
  • When acting as a system integrator, the startup will face substantial challenges when addressing markets in automotive and aerospace, because there are very specific requirements and company standards for production equipment.

Finally, the decision was made by the consortium that an own company will only be launched as soon as sufficient customer interest is given and the current partnership cannot satisfy requests by the market. Exploitation will thus build upon the existing partnership where collaboration will be set up on the basis of customer projects.

 

  • The full list of success Factors can be viewed here.

     

     

  • The following case illustrates the relevance of the Impact success factors.

     

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    The European IPR Helpdesk gave a presentation at the FoF-Impact events of 17 February 2016 and 1 December 2016.  You can download the respective presentations via the respective links.

    An overview of supporting documents in relation to the Impact Success Factors can be found here.

    The European IPR Helpdesk believes that knowing how to manage Intellectual Property (IP) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is the ticket to innovation and competitiveness in Europe. The European IPR Helpdesk offers free of charge, first-line support on IP and IPR matters to beneficiaries of EU funded research projects and EU SMEs involved in transnational partnership agreements, especially within the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).

    CEN-CENELEC gave a presentation at the FoF-Impact of 1 December 2016.  You can download the presentation here.

    By setting common standards that are applied across the whole of the European single market, CEN and CENELEC ensure the protection of consumers, facilitate cross-border trade, ensure the interoperability of products, encourage innovation and technological development, include environmental protection and enable businesses to grow. Products and services that meet these European Standards (ENs) can be offered and sold in all of the participating countries.
    CEN and CENELEC bring together the national standards agencies of 34 countries. Our network involves business federations, commercial and consumer organizations, environmental groups and other societal stakeholders. More than 60,000 technical experts from industry, research, academia and other backgrounds are directly involved in our work.

    Together, CEN and CENELEC provide a platform for the development of European Standards and other technical specifications across a wide range of sectors. We work closely with the European Commission to ensure that standards correspond with any relevant EU legislation.

    CEN and CENELEC also cooperate with respectively the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to reach agreements on common standards that can be applied throughout the whole world, thereby facilitating international trade.

     

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    In order to promote project results, EFFRA deploys the Innovation Portal.  Furthermore, EFFRA organises and co-organises events and workshops, where project results are presented. 

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  • From the start of the Factories of the Future PPP (FoF PPP) under the call 2010, EFFRA deployed the ‘EFFRA Innovation Portal’ in cooperation with the European Commission. The initial value of the Innovation Portal was to have one entry point with the essential information about all the FoF projects, including the organisations that where participating, the related call topics, start date, end date, funding etc.

    Example: screenshot from the DYNXPERTS project main page.

    In 2014, a new feature was launched within the EFFRA Innovation Portal, enabling the project consortia to upload information about the specific project results and demonstrators that their project generated.   This is a very important step toward a structured and systematic monitoring of the outcome of the FoF PPP.  The feature was presented to the FoF project coordinators at the FoF Impact Workshop in March 2014. However, the actual collection of project results and demonstrators increased substantially towards the FoF Impact Workshop of April 2015.     There, additional characteristics in related to the project outcome were reported and discussed, such as spin-offs, patents, standardisation (an overview of the collected data was extracted from the Innovation Portal is included in annex).

    A new version of the Innovation Portal will be deployed in the first half of 2017.   More about the EFFRA Innovation Portal

  • You can download here a guide with respect to the set-up of workshops in view of addressing the impact success factors.

  • The basic version of this Impact toolkit was established through the FoF-Impact coordination action, a two-year European project coordinated by EFFRA (Grant agreement number 637212) during 2015 and 2016.

    The project consortium consisted of the following organisations:

    EFFRA | Agoria | CRIT | LMS | Mondragon | Swerea IVF | Tecnalia | TWI | VDMA

     

    In addition to FoF-Impact, four other projects under the same FoF-07-2014 call topic have been working to support the enhancement of the impact of the ‘Factories of the Future’ partnership. These projects are:

     

    These projects were funded by the European Union through the 'Factories of the Future' Public-Private Partnership under Horizon 2020.